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Iraq Transition

U.S. military: At least 50 dead in Mosul

Shiites, Kurds reach agreement to form new Iraqi government

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MOSUL, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military said Friday the latest reports indicate Thursday's suicide bombing in Mosul killed at least 50 Iraqi civilians and wounded nearly 80 others.

The bomber attacked a funeral procession near a Shiite Muslim mosque in the northern Iraqi city, where insurgent attacks and U.S.-led coalition raids have been virtual everyday occurrences for months.

On Thursday night, hospital officials listed 47 dead and 81 wounded.

The funeral was for Hashim Mahmoud al-Aaraji, a professor at Mosul University and the imam of central Mosul's Shahedayein Mosque.

In a statement Friday, the U.S. military said the scene was "reminiscent of the recent and horrific Al Hilla market bombing" last week -- the deadliest single insurgent attack of the Iraq war, which killed at least 127 people.

"Iraqi military forces, local police and concerned neighborhood residents courageously began administering treatment to the wounded and evacuated them all to three nearby hospitals," the U.S. statement said. "In dramatic contrast to the vicious nature of the attack, several dozen civilians lined up to donate blood to the victims."

The bombing was the latest in a series of attacks on Iraq's Shiites -- strikes that appear to have picked up as a Shiite-led political coalition prepares to assume power in a transitional national government.

That coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance, has agreed in principle with a Kurdish political bloc on how to form a new government, officials said Thursday. Details of the agreement were not released.

An official with the Dawa Party -- part of the Shiite-led coalition -- said the alliance and Kurdish bloc were in general agreement that Dawa's Ibrahim al-Jaafari would become prime minister and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan leader Jalal Talabani would be president.

The agreement was reached Wednesday and signed Thursday, the official said.

In the January 30 election, the United Iraqi Alliance won 140 seats in the 275-member transitional National Assembly, and the Kurds gained 75 seats. Despite its slim lead in assembly seats, the alliance needs coalition partners because a two-thirds majority is required to form a government.

The assembly convenes Wednesday. Its first act of business will be to elect an assembly president to preside over its deliberations.

Other developments

  • The Iraqi interim government said Thursday its forces had come close to capturing Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi several times in recent months and have captured or killed many high-ranking members of his network, suspected in attacks in Iraq. The government named 10 men it said were captured within the past two weeks and that many of the detainees have provided valuable information.
  • President Bush will name Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, to replace John Negroponte as the top American envoy in Iraq, a senior administration official said Thursday. An official announcement is expected Friday. Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, Khalilzad was the U.S. special envoy to Iraqi opposition groups. Bush recently tapped Negroponte to be the first director of national intelligence.

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