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Iraq Transition

Sunni mosque bombed in Baghdad

Police fight 3-hour gunbattle with insurgents storming station

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Iraqis gather at the scene of a mortar attack Monday in the Shulla neighborhood of Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two bombs exploded Monday evening outside a Sunni mosque in Baghdad, killing four people in a continuation of the sectarian attacks that have come since a bomb destroyed a Shiite shrine in Samarra last week.

At least 18 people were wounded in the blasts, which occurred in a mostly Shiite neighborhood, Baghdad emergency police told CNN.

In the Nahrawan area southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi police clashed with insurgents attempting to occupy a police station Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Two police commandos were killed and five others were wounded in the fighting. Another commando is missing, police said.

Police called for support from the U.S. military, and said the insurgents fled when troops showed up, ending the three-hour skirmish.

Monday morning, a mortar attack targeted a gas station and a high school for girls in the northwestern neighborhood of Shulla.

Four people were killed and 17 others were wounded, Iraqi police said.

Earlier Monday, authorities lifted a daylight curfew enacted after mass demonstrations were followed by violence last week.

The violence -- much of it sectarian -- has killed more than 200 people since the bombing of the gold-domed al-Askariya Mosque on Wednesday.

Sources: Military brass split on troop withdrawals

Military commanders are split on whether the number of U.S. troops in Iraq can be reduced soon, military sources have told CNN.

CNN spoke to several senior officers, who said some commanders feel Iraqi forces have proved their combat-readiness, but others would prefer to wait until the new Iraqi parliament is seated.

The United States has about 136,000 troops in the Iraq, and officials meet every three months to discuss troop levels and rotations.

Sources said Gen. John Abizaid, commander of Central Command, and Gen. George Casey, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, might come to Washington for the meeting.

Other developments

  • Iraqi officials believe kidnapped American journalist Jill Carroll is alive and are working toward her release, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq said Monday. "We are doing all that we can to help bring about a release and will persist with that," Zalmay Khalilzad said. (Full story)
  • After 11 days, Saddam Hussein has ended his hunger strike to protest conditions at his war crimes trial, his attorney said Monday from Amman, Jordan. With the trial scheduled to resume Tuesday, Hussein's lawyer, Khalil Dulaimi, said the defense team has requested a delay because of the recent sectarian violence. Dulaimi said the judges on the tribunal also are weighing some demands the defense wants met before ending its boycott. He was not specific about the demands. (Full story)
  • Iraqi security forces have captured a top aide to al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Monday. Police commandos arrested Abu al-Farouq, a Syrian, and five other terrorism suspects in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. Al-Farouq was in charge of financing militant groups in the city of Ramadi, the official said.
  • Gunmen killed two brothers in western Baquba late Monday morning, an official with Diyala Joint Coordination Center said. Also Monday, gunmen killed two men, and wounded two adults and three children, at a car maintenance shop, a JCC official said.
  • Iraq's leaders still have time to reach "a genuine national compact" that will defuse the seething sectarian tensions, according to a study to be released Monday by the International Crisis Group, an influential nongovernmental organization. (Full story)
  • CNN's Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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