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Deadly blast hits Iraq peace talks

Story Highlights

• Suicide bomber kills at least 12, wounds 21 inside a Baghdad hotel
• 7 sheikhs -- 5 Sunnis and 2 Shiites -- and TV anchor reported among the dead
• Car bomber kills at least 8, wounds 31 at a Hilla government compound
• Suicide bomber driving tanker rigged with explosives kills 28 at Baiji police HQ
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomber detonated his explosives inside a busy central Baghdad hotel, killing at least 12 people -- most of them Sunni and Shiite tribal leaders meeting as part of Iraq's reconciliation effort -- Iraqi officials said.

An Iraqi journalist was also among those killed in Monday's Mansour Hotel blast, which wounded 21, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The U.S. military gave a different casualty count, saying nine people died and 11 were wounded.

Speaking in Washington, President Bush condemned the attack.

"Once again we saw the brutality that extremists can inflict upon society when a suicider killed innocent people who were working toward reconciliation," he said, vowing "to remain firm and strong as we stand for this young [democracy]."

Video showed the lobby was gutted by the blast. Fragments of the ceiling dangled like threads amid exposed wires. Several bodies were covered by blankets on the debris-strewn floor. (Watch scenes of the hotel damage Video)

The blast killed seven tribal leaders -- five Sunnis and two Shiites -- and two of their bodyguards, the ministry official said. It also killed Rahim al-Maliki, an anchorman with Iraqiya state television, the official said.

It is unclear if there were any U.S. troops at the hotel in connection with the meeting, a U.S. military official told CNN. U.S. troops responded to the blast, the military official said.

The Mansour Hotel houses the Chinese embassy and several western organizations.

South of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber detonated at a Hilla government compound Monday morning, killing at least eight people and wounding 31 others, a Hilla official told CNN.

Among the dead were civilians and security guards, authorities said. The attack took place around 7 a.m. (11 p.m. ET Sunday).

Hilla is located about 60 miles (100 km) south of Baghdad.

A few hours later, a second suicide bomber, driving a fuel tanker rigged with explosives, struck Baiji police headquarters in northern Iraq, police said. According to a hospital official, 28 people were killed and 69 others were wounded in the attack. The dead included police, civilians and detainees at the jail.

Baiji is 120 miles (190 km) north of Baghdad.

In Mosul, a car bomb exploded along a road on the southern edge of the city, killing one person and wounding 20 others, police said. Mosul is about 260 miles (420 km) north of Baghdad.

Two mortar rounds landed in the Fadhil section of Baghdad, a Sunni neighborhood, north of the city center, police said. At least three people were killed and four others were wounded.

Also Monday, an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry said 27 bodies were found by Iraqi police across the capital on Sunday and Monday, bringing June's total to 483.

U.S. toll for June hits 84

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Monday in Iraq, the military announced.

One of the soldiers died in a small arms attack in southeast Baghdad, and the other was killed when a roadside bomb detonated near a military vehicle during combat operations in an eastern section of the capital.

The deaths follow a deadly weekend for U.S. forces: 12 troops died Saturday, 10 of them in attacks, mostly in Baghdad, the military said.

This brings the number of U.S. military deaths in the war to 3,554 -- 84 of them in June. Seven civilian contractors working for the Pentagon also have been killed since the 2003 invasion.

CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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Soldiers inspect bomb damage to the lobby of the Mansour Hotel in Baghdad.


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