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Gunmen, bombers target Iraqi holy sites

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents in Iraq struck three Sunni mosques and a Shiite holy place on Friday, the holiest day of the Muslim week, killing at least 10 people and wounding 55 others.

The Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife frequently erupts on Fridays, and security and U.S.-led coalition forces are moving to clamp down on such attacks.

In the northwestern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border, a car exploded outside a Shiite holy place, killing seven people and wounding 47 others, Mosul police said.

Two of the Sunni mosques were in Baghdad and the third in Baquba, northeast of the capital. The violence occurred at all three as worshippers were leaving.

Three people were killed and two wounded when a mortar exploded outside Al-Nida'a Mosque in northern Baghdad.

A car bomb detonated at a Sunni mosque in the capital's western Hay al Jihad area, an Interior Ministry spokesman said. Casualty numbers weren't immediately available.

A roadside bomb also exploded near a Sunni mosque in central Baquba, wounding six people, according to a Diyala Joint Coordination Center official.

U.S. touts insurgent's capture

Iraqi and U.S. forces netted a "high-level insurgent leader" during an early Friday raid in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, the U.S. military said. Thirty to 40 militants were killed or wounded in a firefight, according to the military.

There were no casualties among Iraqi or coalition forces, the military said.

Witnesses said they heard overnight bombing in the area known to be controlled by the Mehdi militia loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr's office said the fighting with "occupation forces" claimed the lives of 10 civilians and destroyed two homes and a funeral tent.

The violence began around 2 a.m. Friday and lasted about four hours, police said.

The U.S. military said insurgents engaged Iraqi forces when they entered the eastern Baghdad neighborhood.

In an interview with Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya, a spokesman for al-Sadr's office blamed U.S. forces for launching the raid.

The spokesman, Abd al-Hadi al-Daraji, accused U.S. forces of trying to destroy the new Iraqi government's national reconciliation plan, which he said al-Sadr's organization supports.

Part of the plan calls for the release of prisoners who are not responsible for killing Iraqi civilians.

The U.S. military did not identify the captured leader but said he "heads multiple insurgent cells in Baghdad whose main focus is to conduct attacks against Iraqi and coalition forces" with roadside and car bombs.

"He and his followers have kidnapped, tortured and murdered Iraqi citizens, and he also is personally responsible for the killing [of] two Iraqi soldiers in an attempt to improve his organization's status with higher leadership," the military said. "Additionally, he is linked to a 'punishment committee' that carries out vigilante judgment on perceived enemies of his organization.

"This individual is also involved in the transfer of weapons from Syria into Iraq to reportedly facilitate his efforts to splinter away from his current insurgent organization."

The military said the raid was part of an operation launched last month to restore security to Baghdad.

Report on Haditha probe

The investigation "into the reporting, training, and command climate as it related to circumstances surrounding the deaths of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha" in November was completed Friday, the U.S. military said.

Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli reviewed a report conducted by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell. Chiarelli forwarded copies of the report to Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

Bargewell conducted one of two investigations into the incident. The second investigation is a criminal inquiry being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

U.S. Marines are alleged to have killed up to two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha after one of their fellow troops was killed by a roadside bomb November 19.

CNN's Arwa Damon and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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