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Iraq Transition

Baghdad may impose Sabbath curfew

22 dead in sectarian bombings, reprisal attacks in Iraq




BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Authorities will impose a daytime curfew Friday in Baghdad, Iraqi state TV reported, as deadly attacks continued throughout the region.

A string of bombings and shooting assaults on Thursday left at least 22 people dead and more than a dozen others wounded.

The curfew would be the second to be enforced on the Muslim Sabbath since last week's bombing of the revered Shiite Al-Askariya Mosque in Samarra. Vehicles -- except for official ones providing essential services -- will not be allowed on the streets.

More than 400 Iraqis have been killed in fighting since the February 22 attack that set off reprisals against Sunnis, followed by retaliation against Shiites.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite whose party nomination to remain prime minister in Iraq's new government is under fire, canceled a Thursday meeting with political leaders from all factions on national unity and security, his office confirmed.

On Thursday, gunmen attacked a checkpoint north of Baghdad, killing 10 Iraqi security officers -- six Iraqi soldiers and four police, said an official with the Salaheddin coalition press center.

Gunmen fired on the joint checkpoint in Dour, about 90 miles (140 kilometers) north of the capital, during early morning. (Watch to see whether Iraq is heading toward civil war -- 1:17)

Dour is the hometown of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, deputy prime minister under former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

Gunmen in western Baghdad on Thursday attacked a convoy carrying top Iraqi Sunni Muslim politician Adnan al-Dulaimi. He said one of his guards was killed and four others were wounded. Al-Dulaimi escaped injury.

Attackers armed with AK-47s and machine guns peppered al-Dulaimi's limousine while it was stopped to repair a flat tire.

"I am very sorry of what happened to my guards," al-Dulaimi said, adding that Iraq has become "like hell" and "Iraqis are dying everywhere."

Al-Dulaimi chairs the General Conference of People of Iraq, which is part of the largest Sunni Arab bloc in the nation's newly elected parliament.

Pipeline targeted

Gunmen in the northern city of Mosul attacked an Iraqi police patrol around midday, killing four officers in the city's Suker neighborhood. Mosul is about 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

Earlier in the capital, four people were killed and 11 others wounded when a bomb exploded in a market in the predominantly Shiite southeastern neighborhood of Zafaraniya.

In western Baghdad's Jihad neighborhood, an Iraqi police commando was killed and two other commandos wounded in a roadside bomb attack on their patrol.

At midday, two people were killed and four others wounded after a roadside bomb struck their minibus in Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, Iraqi emergency police said.

About 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Baghdad, an oil pipeline was burning in Musayyib, following a rocket-propelled grenade attack by insurgents Wednesday night, a Hilla police spokesman said.

Gunmen shot at firefighters as they rushed to the scene, wounding two of them. Arriving a short time later, police engaged the insurgents in an hour-long gunbattle, the spokesman said.

Police detained seven people, including three who were wounded in the shootout.

Deaths in Ramadi

Meanwhile, U.S. troops are fighting insurgents this week in Ramadi, capital of the volatile Anbar province.

A U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday while in combat in the region, the military announced Thursday.

The soldier was killed "due to enemy action" during combat in Anbar, according to a military statement. The death brought the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq to 2,297.

A Ramadi city council member said three people were killed and three others were wounded in U.S.-insurgent fighting on Wednesday.

He said the fighting took place "in the vicinity of a compound that houses the central library and an Interior Ministry office" and that U.S. jets and helicopters flew over the city and bombs were dropped.

New bloc emerging?

Iraqi political leaders from Kurdish, Sunni and secular movements are leaning on the United Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite-led coalition that won the most seats December's parliamentary elections, to reconsider its nomination of al-Jaafari.

Several groups said al-Jaafari has performed poorly during his tenure over the past year, which has been marked by a potent Sunni-led insurgency, criticism of Interior Ministry actions against Sunnis, grinding economic problems and spotty essential services.

Also, two politicians -- a Kurd and a Sunni -- questioned whether it was wise for al-Jaafari to take a trip to Turkey during the sectarian violence in recent days, saying it is an example of poor leadership.

Lower-level representatives of the political factions met late Thursday to discuss the security problems in Iraq, a Kurdish alliance spokesman confirmed.

Also, one member of parliament said talk has emerged that largely Kurdish and Sunni factions could form a new bloc that would challenge the United Iraqi Alliance, creating a major power shift.

The alliance doesn't have enough seats to govern without coalitions, and no agreement has been reached on a national unity government since last year's elections.

That lawmaker also said al-Jaafari has been compromised by his relationship with firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. (Full story)

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- the most influential Shiite cleric in Iraq -- met Wednesday with al-Sadr, al-Sistani's office said. It was not disclosed what was discussed in the 15-minute meeting.

Al-Sadr also contacted President Jalal Talabani, the top-level Kurdish figure in the government, according to the Kurdish alliance source.

CNN's Terence Burke, Arwa Damon, Ingrid Formanek, Aneesh Raman and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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