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Car bombs, other attacks kill 10 in Iraq

Lawmakers seek delay in opening of new parliament

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 10 people were killed and 22 wounded Tuesday in Baghdad and three other Iraqi cities.

In the Diyala provincial town of Khalis, northwest of Baquba, three Iraqi soldiers were killed and another wounded in an explosion.

An official with the Diyala Joint Coordination Center said a car bomb targeted the soldiers' convoy.

In Baquba, three people working for firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr were killed and another wounded in a drive-by shooting, officials said.

Al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia has patrolled the streets of Sadr City, a Shiite-dominated neighborhood in Baghdad, and other areas of the country during the recent wave of sectarian violence in Iraq.

Also in Baquba, one police officer died and one was wounded when attackers sprayed a patrol with gunfire, said an Diyala official.

A few minutes later, a car bomb exploded in the same neighborhood, narrowly missing police but killing a bystander.

Baquba is about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

In the Iraqi capital, two U.S. military convoys were the targets of car bombs. One civilian was killed and six people wounded in the attacks, Baghdad police said.

Also in Baghdad, Iraqi police said one insurgent died during a gunbattle with police. Five officers and one suspected insurgent were wounded.

In Hilla, a car bomb on a major road wounded seven people, police said. Another blast caused no casualties, authorities said.

As a result, the Babil provincial governor imposed a curfew on cars and trucks.

Hilla is about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

'Constitutional crisis'?

Hussein al-Shahristani, vice president of the outgoing transitional national assembly, has asked President Jalal Talabani to postpone the planned opening of the new session of parliament, a high-ranking official from a major Shiite party said Tuesday.

Ridha Jwad Taqi, a member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said he believes the postponement could be extended for three to seven days. On Monday, Talabani said parliament would meet for the first time Sunday. (Full story)

Lawmakers are arguing over the selection of Ibrahim al-Jaafari to be prime minister in the four-year government. Al-Jaafari, who has held the post during the transitional government, is under fire from Kurdish, Sunni and secular politicians.

"We have seen in recent weeks a security crisis, then a political crisis. This would mean we would now have a constitutional crisis," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament.

Talabani already has postponed the first meeting once, and a second delay would violate the constitution, which allows for one deferment.

Rumsfeld slams reporting on recent violence

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld criticized the media covering the Iraq war Tuesday, telling reporters at the Pentagon that many of the stories following recent sectarian violence were exaggerated. (Watch as Rumsfeld disputes talk that Iraq is headed toward civil war -- 1:19)

Since the February 22 bombing of a revered Shiite shrine in Samarra, news reports have cited the fears of Iraqi and U.S. officials that the security situation could spiral out of control into communal warfare.

"It isn't as though there simply have been a series of random errors on both sides of issues," Rumsfeld said. "On the contrary, the steady stream of errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

The defense chief touted the Iraqi security forces, saying the army and police have shown leadership that "has to be seen as encouraging despite the apparent unwillingness of some to accept it."

Rumsfeld acknowledged that violence is slowing Iraq's progress and that militias pose problems for the government, but he said the number of attacks hadn't increased substantially.

"There's always been a potential for civil war," he admitted but said he doesn't "believe they're in a civil war today."

Other developments

  • Three of four Christian peace activists kidnapped in Iraq more than three months ago appeared in a video that aired Tuesday on Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language TV network. A fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, did not appear on the tape, and his status was not mentioned. (Full story)
  • Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson has said his country's troops will remain in Iraq "well into 2007," a spokesman said Tuesday. There are about 1,320 Australian troops in Iraq, according to the Australian Department of Defense Web site.
  • A prisoner in American custody in southern Iraq died of natural causes Tuesday, the U.S. military said. The military said other detainees brought the unconscious prisoner to guards but that the man could not be revived.
  • CNN's Aneesh Raman and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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