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Iraqis fear return to sectarian violence after murder of social media star

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The fatal shooting of a 22-year-old former beauty queen, fashion model and social media star has shocked Iraq.

Tara Fares, who won fame as much for her outspoken social media comments on personal freedom as her daring outfits in the conservative, Muslim-majority country, was shot dead at the wheel of her Porsche in Baghdad.

She was killed last week in broad daylight by a man who leaned into her car and opened fire before escaping on a motorcycle with an accomplice.

The 22-year-old had 2.8 million followers.

The 22-year-old had 2.8 million followers.

AAP

The shooting, caught on security camera video, followed the killing of a female activist in the southern city of Basra and the mysterious deaths of two well-known beauty experts.

The violence has raised fears of a return to the kind of attacks on prominent figures that plagued the country at the height of its sectarian strife.

Iraq is still recovering from its fight against Islamic State militants.

The country has been without a government since national elections in May, and riots have repeatedly broken out in the south over the authorities’ failure to provide basic services.

Iraqi human rights activist Hana Adwar said: “These harrowing crimes are worrying us.

“There are groups that want to terrify society through the killing of popular women and activists … and to tell other women to abandon their work and stay at home.”

Iraqi activist Soad al-Ali, who had been involved in organising protests demanding better services in Basra was shot dead last month. She was the founder of al-Weed al-Alaiami for Human Rights – an NGO that focused on the rights of women and children.

It is not clear whether the deaths of the women are connected, and reports that they knew each other could not be confirmed.

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