ISIS has claimed responsibility for the assassination of an Iraqi parliamentary candidate on Sunday night, just days before polls open in one of the region's most anticipated elections.
Gunmen shot dead Faruq Zarzur Al Jubouri, a 45-year-old candidate loyal to Vice President Ayad Allawi, at his home in the town of Qayyarah, 70 kilometres from Mosul, the former ISIS bastion in northern Iraq.
The terror group said in a statement published on the encrypted messaging app Telegram on Monday that Mr Al Jubouri was killed because he was “an atheist”.
Mr Al Jubouri, a Sunni Muslim, was running for a parliamentary seat under the National Alliance list led by Mr Allawi, a Shiite politician. ISIS has long targeted Iraq's Shia community.
His bloc condemned the assassination and called for an investigation into his death.
"The terror group's heinous acts continue to escalate. We call on our security forces to become more vigilant in protecting our citizens from terrorism," the spokesman for The National Coalition Alliance told The National.
“The death of our brother Farouk and the attacks on other candidates will strengthen our determination to push for reforms in Iraq,” the spokesman said.
Mr Al Jubouri became the fifth member of parliament to die in the run up to the elections. He is believed to be the first parliamentarian to have been targeted by ISIS.
“The electoral process has reached a low level of indecency while the campaigning process has been based on hypocrisy and lies," the spokesman said.
Since the start of Iraq's electoral campaigns a number of candidates have been killed nationwide.
On Monday, Fawziya Al Jashma, a candidate on the State of Law Coalition list, led by former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, was killed in a car crash in Babil Governorate, 90 kilometres south of Baghdad.
Last week, ISIS threatened to target polling stations in the key vote that comes just months after the Iraqi government declared the group to be defeated in the country. ISIS’s spokesman said in an audio message that anyone who participates in the vote would be considered an infidel, or a disbeliever.
The extremists accused the country’s Shiite-led government of being a proxy of Iran and warned that anyone who participates in next week’s vote would be targeted.
"We warn you, Sunnis of Iraq, of these people [Shiites] taking power. Polling stations are a target for us, so stay away from them," Abu Al Hassan Al Muhajer said. In response, Iraqi security officials vowed to protect polling centres.
Polls on May 12 are the first to be held since Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi declared victory over the terror group last December. They are also the fourth parliamentary elections since the fall of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Mr Al Abadi is seeking another term after taking office in September 2014, shortly after much of the Iraqi military collapsed in the face of an ISIS advance which saw a third of the country fall.
Despite earlier declarations about the group’s defeat, ISIS sleeper cells have remained active across the country.