Three Sunni candidates in Iraq’s provincial elections have been assassinated in the run-up to today’s vote, Iraqi officials said Friday.

The three candidates were shot to death on Thursday, one each in Mosul, Baghdad and Diyala, northeast of the capital. At least six candidates in all have been killed during the campaign.

According to Iraqi officials, the candidate in Diyala was killed with his brother and another relative when they were pasting election posters on a wall. The man was a former Iraqi army colonel whose political party included many of the "Awakening" members who have allied with the U.S. military against insurgent groups.

A second report, unconfirmed, said the candidate had been abducted after a campaign rally and was found later shot to death.

The Baghdad candidate was killed in his home in the Amiriyah neighborhood after a campaign rally, officials said. The Mosul candidate was reportedly closely affiliated with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who campaigned in Mosul last week with the man.

Tensions between Arabs and Kurds have risen in the north in the months leading up to the elections.

Most Sunnis boycotted the 2005 elections, which gave Shiites and Kurds vast political powers in Iraq’s first post-invasion government.

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