An unknown group of armed men drew up alongside Qassim Imhawi's car and opened fire as he was travelling from his home in a western district of the capital, the source said.

 

Imhawi was the director-general of the communications ministry and regarded as one of the minister's top aides.

 

Several senior officials in Iraq's ministries have been killed in the past several months, including a director-general in the finance ministry.

 

Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi warned his government earlier this week that violence was likely to increase in the run-up to the elections scheduled for 30 January.