Iraqi comedian slain in Baghdad

Gunmen killed an Iraqi actor known for his stage portrayal of the lighter side of life in Baghdad during Ottoman rule in the early 1900s, police said Wednesday. Mitashar al-Sudani, 60, was killed as he drove to theater offices on Haifa Street in Baghdad on Tuesday, and his body was taken to a hospital morgue, a police officer and an official at Iraq's Theater and Cinema Ministry said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns. Al-Sudani, a native of the southern city of Basra, appeared on television and in comedies on stage. In the 1980s, he starred in a play in which he used proverbs to poke fun at life in Baghdad when it was controlled by the declining Ottoman Empire. But he also gave serious performances that imparted moral lessons to audiences, and he was a familiar face to many Iraqis for decades even though many of his roles were minor. On Nov. 20, another popular actor was killed. The victim, Walid Hassan, was the star of "Caricature," a weekend satire on Al-Sharqiyah TV known for its dark humor about Iraq's many problems.