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Iraq Transition

At least 38 killed as Iraqi PM pleads for unity

Story Highlights

NEW: Attacks kill at least 38 people in Baghdad area
• A U.S. soldier dies when a roadside bomb goes off
• Iraq's prime minister appeals for unity behind new security plan
• Iraqi official denies Shiite-led government conducting crackdown on Sunnis
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged the Iraqi parliament Thursday to keep politics out of a new security plan for the capital, violence rocked the Baghdad area, killing at least 38 people, including a U.S. soldier.

No one who engages in violence, either Shiite or Sunni, will be spared, al-Maliki said in an address shown live on national TV.

"I ask everyone to excuse us as we do the job," he said. "No school, house, mosque or husseiniya [Shiite mosques] will be out of reach of our forces if they are harboring outlaws. The same for political party headquarters." (Watch how the battle for Baghdad is fought from apartment buildings Video)

The prime minister's address came as attacks were reported around the capital. These strikes included a suicide car bombing that killed at least 26 people and wounded 55 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The Iraqi leader dismissed the notion that his Shiite-led government was carrying out a vendetta against the minority Sunnis.

"It's a law-and-order oriented plan, and it's not targeted against any sectarian group as claimed by some media outlets," al-Maliki said. "Some say it's targeting Shiites; others say it's targeting Sunnis.

"I say it's targeting everyone -- everyone that is outside the law."

Al-Maliki asserted that the security efforts were 100 percent Iraqi, with U.S.-led coalition forces "just backing us up."

The new plan will add 21,500 U.S. troops to the roughly 132,000 already in Iraq, and the troop increase has been widely criticized in the U.S. Congress. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-9 Wednesday to approve a nonbinding resolution opposing this strategy. (Full story)

Al-Maliki also promised that the army and police will not breach human rights to secure the capital. He said that rebuilding neighborhoods was part of the plan, which will carry humanitarian, social and economic components.

Al-Maliki said the security crackdown did not represent a last stand. "If we do not accomplish all our goals with this plan, we will revise it. There will be a second, third and fourth plan if need be," he said. (Watch U.S. forces engage insurgents from a Baghdad rooftop Video)

Bombings in Baghdad's commercial areas

In Thursday's deadliest violence, a suicide car bomber, parked at a busy intersection, targeted a police patrol in Baghdad's Karrada district as shoppers began the start of the Muslim weekend, an Interior Ministry official said.

Most of the casualties were civilians, but at least two of the 26 who died and three of the 55 others wounded were police, the official said.

The official said police also found a minibus with explosives on the same Karrada street near a Shiite mosque but an explosives expert removed the threat with a controlled blast.

Earlier Thursday, a bomb planted on a motorbike blew up at the Shorja market in central Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 20 others, an Interior Ministry official said.

The blast happened near Bab al-Sharqi, an outdoor market where at least 88 people were killed and 160 were wounded Monday in a pair of bombings.

Also Thursday, roadside bombs hit the Bayaa neighborhood's commercial area, killing at least two people and wounding 10 others, the official said.

In an eastern Baghdad neighborhood, mortars killed one person and wounded four others, according to the Interior Ministry. A civilian also died when mortars struck in the Ur area.

In western Baghdad's Yarmouk district, an Iraqi soldier was killed and three were wounded in clashes with gunmen, the Interior Ministry said.

In southern Baghdad's Dora area, gunmen killed a Mustansiriya University student.

A bombing in Baghdad's Sadr City killed one and wounded 12 when an explosive apparently was placed on a roadside near a minibus, the ministry said.

In other violence, an American soldier was killed Thursday northwest of the capital when a roadside bomb detonated near a patrol, the U.S. military said. Three other soldiers were wounded in the blast while conducting the combat security patrol, the military said.

The number of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq war stands at 3,056. Seven civilian contractors of the Defense Department also have been killed in the war.

Police also found 40 unidentified bodies Thursday in the Iraqi capital.

And six people were injured when at least two rockets struck the heavily fortified Green Zone -- the seat of coalition power in Baghdad. Little structural damage was reported.

Suspects rounded up in raids

Meanwhile, Iraqi police forces, backed by coalition forces detained five members of an illegally armed militia and arrested seven others during operations south of the capital near Kawam, according to the U.S. military.

They allegedly plotted and carried out bomb attacks against Iraqi police, security forces and U.S.-led coalition forces in the Babil province.

No Iraqi civilians, Iraqi forces or coalition troops were injured, the military said.

In addition, coalition forces detained 13 suspected terrorists during raids Thursday in Karmah, in Anbar province near Syria; and Mosul in northern Iraq's Nineveh province, the U.S. military said.

The 12 people who were detained in Karmah had "key logistical ties to the al Qaeda in Iraq network" and to bomb production, the U.S. military said, in citing intelligence reports.

The detainee in Mosul allegedly was "responsible for bringing large numbers of suicide bombers into Iraq" and had al Qaeda links, according to the military. There were no reports of casualties in the operations.

CNN's Terence Burke, Sam Dagher, Arwa Damon and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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An Iraqi soldier gathers pieces from a motorcycle that blew up Thursday in central Baghdad, killing four people.


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