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Bomb kills 3 at home of Iraqi Shiite cleric

A U.S. soldier on patrol in Iraq in a Humvee all-terrain vehicle.
A U.S. soldier on patrol in Iraq in a Humvee all-terrain vehicle.

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A bomb exploded outside the home of one of Iraq's top Shiite Muslim clerics, killing three and wounding 10 others. CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.
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British soldiers die, the U.S. Army kills two Iraqis, the U.N. gets back to work, an unverified claim for responsibility -- Saturday in Iraq.
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NAJIF, Iraq (CNN) -- Three people died Sunday when a bomb exploded outside the home of one of Iraq's top Shiite Muslim clerics, authorities said.

The explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. EDT) at the home of Shiite leader Ayatollah Mohamad Sa'eed al-Hakim in Najaf, a Shiite spiritual center about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

A spokesman for the ayatollah told CNN that two guards outside the building and a worker inside the office were killed, and 10 people -- mostly pedestrians -- were wounded, one seriously.

The ayatollah, who has had fairly constant contact with U.S. officials since before the U.S.-led war in Iraq, was walking through a hallway when the blast went off and received minor injuries from glass shards, his spokesman said.

The spokesman said an explosive device had detonated inside a gas canister that had been left outside an office where the ayatollah's son was working.

The home is about half a mile south of the Imam Ali Mosque, a site sacred to Shiites around the world. Ali was the son-in-law of the prophet Muhammad and the first leader of the Shiite community.

The spokesman also said that the ayatollah and his followers hold the U.S. military responsible for maintaining security in Najaf and therefore hold the Americans indirectly responsible for the attack.

Iraqi police said that Hakim apparently received a death threat last week, but did not report it to police. The spokesman confirmed the death threat, and said that the ayatollah and other leading Iraqi religious figures in Najaf had received threats telling them that they must leave Najaf or be killed.

A police officer told CNN that Sunni fundamentalists are the source of the blasts, but that information could not be confirmed. Others said the blast was meant to create friction among the various Shiite factions.

Hakim's cousin, Abdel Aziz al Hakim, represents another cousin -- Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al Hakim, head of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- on the U.S. coalition-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.

U.S. military vehicle hit, witnesses say

West of Baghdad Sunday, a U.S. military vehicle was hit by an explosion on the Amriyah Bridge, witnesses told CNN.

The military has cordoned off the area, and the witnesses reported injuries, however the U.S. military has not confirmed any information regarding the incident.

CNN's Rym Brahimi says from witness accounts it appears that some kind of roadside device was triggered, hitting the last vehicle in a convoy of Humvees. That vehicle was on fire and the wounded were taken from the scene, she said.

Other developments

• Two soldiers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment died in Iraq in non-hostile incidents, the U.S. Central Command said Sunday. Their names were withheld pending notification of relatives. One soldier died Saturday at the 28th Combat Support Hospital, where he was evacuated after suffering a non-hostile gunshot wound, Central Command said. The second soldier drowned in the Euphrates River Saturday evening near the Hadithah Dam, west of Ar Ramadi. The soldiers brought to 98, the number of U.S. military non-hostile deaths in the Iraq war.

Three British soldiers died in an ambush on their vehicle Saturday.
Three British soldiers died in an ambush on their vehicle Saturday.

• The British defense ministry on Sunday identified victims of an attack that killed three British soldiers in the southern city of Basra. The ministry named them as Maj. Matthew Titchener, 32, and Warrant Officer Colin Wall, 34, both of 150 Provost Company, and Cpl. Dewi Pritchard, 35, of 116 Provost Company. All three men were serving with the 19 Mechanized Brigade. The three deaths raised the toll of British troops killed in Iraq to 49, according to the Ministry of Defence. A fourth soldier was wounded in the attack. (Full Story)

• On Saturday, about 100 Iraqis demonstrated in front of the Baghdad headquarters of the United Nations, condemning Tuesday's bombing there and paying tribute to at least 22 U.N. workers who lost their lives in the attack. U.N. workers resumed their duties Saturday in tents, trailers and other temporary offices.

• In northern Iraq, two Kirkuk police officers are in U.S. military custody, suspected of firing into a crowd of demonstrators Saturday and killing two ethnic Turkmen, according to Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, spokesman for the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. The area is largely Kurdish and Turkmen, and there has been tension between the groups.

CNN correspondents Ben Wedeman, Rym Brahimi and Barbara Starr and producers Marga Ortigas and Ingrid Formanek contributed to this report.

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