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55 killed in string of Baghdad attacks

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A nighttime blast near a Shiite mosque killed at least 25 people and wounded 43, the worst of a wave of attacks Tuesday in Iraq's capital, officials said.

At least another 30 people were killed and 130 others wounded in a wave of strikes around midday.

Leaders continued to exhort Iraqis to keep the peace, but deaths have continued across the country despite curfews and bolstered security forces patrolling the streets.

More than 400 people have been killed amid sectarian fighting that has ripped through the tense country after the bombing February 22 of the al-Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

Since then, already fragile relations between Sunnis and Shiites have decayed amid waves of reprisals and counter-reprisals. Officials have tried to calm fears that the violence will lead to a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

The strike Tuesday night occurred near a Shiite mosque and a market in the northwestern neighborhood of Hurriya.

In Washington, President Bush said the United States "strongly condemns" the bombing of holy sites.

"And now the people of Iraq and their leaders must make a choice: The choice is chaos or unity, the choice is a free society or a society dictated by evil people who would kill innocents," Bush said after a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the Oval Office.

In other violence Tuesday in Baghdad, a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest killed at least 20 people and wounded 68 others in the Amin neighborhood.

Elsewhere, two car bombs killed four and six people, respectively, an official with Iraqi emergency police said.

Another bomb in a parked car went off in eastern Baghdad's Maysalon Square, the city's emergency police said.

The blast targeted the convoy of a high-ranking Defense Ministry official, Daham Radhi al-Assel, an adviser to Defense Minister Saadoun al-Dulaimi. Three of the adviser's guards were wounded, but he escaped unharmed.

A roadside bomb in northern Baghdad also hit an Iraqi police patrol, wounding four officers.

In addition, bombers set charges on the roof of a Sunni mosque in the capital, badly damaging the shrine. No one was hurt in the attack.

Two mortar rounds struck a Baghdad TV station owned by a Sunni political party, injuring four people, including two journalists, police said. The rounds struck Baghdad Satellite TV, owned by the Iraqi Islamic Party.

Meanwhile, in Tikrit, a Sunni mosque built over the grave of Saddam Hussein's father was bombed Tuesday, an official with the Salaheddin Joint Coordination Center said.

The mosque, named for Hussein al-Majid, was badly damaged by the explosion, but there were no casualties, the official said.

Other developments

  • Two British soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing Tuesday in Amara, southeast of Baghdad, the British military said. Insurgents killed a U.S. soldier Monday west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said. Since the start of the war, 2,292 U.S. and 103 British troops have been killed in Iraq.
  • The trial of Hussein, the deposed Iraqi leader, and his seven co-defendants resumed Tuesday after a nearly two-week recess. The trial proceeded in a relatively orderly manner, with fewer defendant outbursts than before. It will continue Wednesday. (Full story)
  • The Iraqi army discovered nine bodies, including a tribal leader, early Tuesday in Tarfaya, said an official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center. All nine were shot dead, the official said. Among them was Hamid Arbat Ghazi, chief of the al-Atayfat Shiite tribe, and two of his nephews.
  • Gunmen killed two police officers and wounded two civilians in separate attacks Tuesday in Baquba, authorities said.
  • 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 added. (Full story)
  • CNN's Terence Burke, Arwa Damon, Ingrid Formanek, Aneesh Raman, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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