Police: Mosque blast kills at least 25
Suicide bombing targeted Shiites in Hilla
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomb blast Wednesday inside a Shiite Muslim mosque in Hilla, south of the capital, killed at least 25 people and wounded 87 others, Iraqi police officials said.
The explosion, which happened at 5:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m. ET) at the Ibn al-Nima mosque in central Hilla, occurred during funeral services for a Shiite Muslim who was killed in a separate suicide attack, police said.
Iraqi police were present at the service and may have been the target of the attack.
The blast destroyed part of the mosque.
Hilla -- a mostly Shiite city -- is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
The attack is the second in five days in Hilla. On September 30 a bomb in a parked car exploded at a crowded vegetable market the central part of the city, killing eight people and wounding 49, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.
That explosion took place near the local governor's office, a police official said.
Sectarian civil strife has persisted in Iraq, with a largely Sunni Arab insurgency targeting the Shiite-Kurdish power structure and Shiite Arabs themselves.
Shiites make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population and were persecuted under the regime of Saddam Hussein, who is a Sunni Muslim.
Iraq government reverses course
In Baghdad on Wednesday, the Iraqi National Assembly reversed itself, changing election rules that would have made approval of a draft constitution a virtual certainty.
The assembly voted 119 to 28 to reverse the action it took last week.
The rule change had been criticized by the United Nations and by Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority, which had threatened to boycott the crucial October 15 vote on a draft constitution for Iraq. (Full story)
Bush meets top brass
In Washington, President Bush met Wednesday with top military advisers at the White House, and said afterward that joint U.S.-Iraqi operations are taking the offensive to insurgents who might try to disrupt the landmark referendum.
"We fully understand they intend to disrupt the constitutional process, or will try to do so, as well as stop the process of democracy," Bush said from the Rose Garden, standing with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Peter Pace and Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the former commander of the effort to train and equip Iraqi soldiers.
"We're seeing progress on the ground," Bush said. "And we're also seeing political progress on the ground."
U.S. and Iraqi forces have carried out a number of recent operations in western Iraq aimed at disrupting insurgent control of Anbar province and targeting al Qaeda in Iraq, the group thought to be led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Marine commanders said one of the missions, Operation River Gate, has encountered little resistance so far; however, they said insurgents in Haditha are probably hiding and looking for targets of opportunity. So far, the Marines have detained 19 people.
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