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Iraq Transition

Mass grave discovered in Iraq

Baghdad, Baquba host protesters demanding new election

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Soil and bones unearthed by construction workers.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Construction workers laying a water pipeline in the Iraqi city of Karbala Monday found a mass grave containing the remains of up to 20 people, police in the southern city of Hilla told CNN.

The gruesome find was about 800 meters (half a mile) from the holy shrine of Imam Hussein.

The grave is believed to contain the bodies of people killed by Saddam Hussein's security forces during the uprising of 1991. (Watch video of where it was found -- 2:16)

Meanwhile, protests against preliminary election results took the spotlight from daily violence Tuesday in Iraq, where demonstrators gathered in Baquba and Baghdad to say "No" to a government headed by religious Shiites.

As many as 3,000 protesters took to the streets in the Iraqi capital, where they carried banners reading "No Sunni, No Shiite, Yes to a United Iraq."

The protest was organized by the Maram group -- an umbrella alliance made up of at least 30 parties, including the main secular Shiite group, National Iraqi List, and the main Sunni Arab group, the Iraqi Accord Front.

Maram alleges fraud in the December 15 parliamentary election and has demanded a re-vote and a suspension of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, which has announced preliminary results that show the religious Shiite United Iraqi Alliance with a strong lead.

Maram members say they will boycott the new parliament if their demands are not met.

Hundreds of students led the protest in Baquba, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, chanting against the United Iraqi Alliance and the electoral commission.

Police in Baquba arrested 10 of the protesters during scuffles that broke out when the authorities blocked the path of a planned march to the governor's building.

U.S. crew dies in collision

Two U.S. Army helicopter crewmen died Monday after their AH-64 Apache collided with another helicopter in western Baghdad, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The two helicopters collided Monday evening while on patrol.

After the collision, one helicopter crashed and burned, killing the pilot and gunner. The other returned to its base in Taji, northwest of Baghdad, with structural damage.

U.S. military officials said the collision was an accident and hostile fire was not involved.

Also on Monday, a U.S. soldier assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was killed in action, a U.S. military statement said.

The soldier was hit by small arms fire while conducting combat operations in Khalidiya and died from the wounds.

Since the start of the war, 2,174 U.S. troops have died in Iraq.

Would-be bomber caught

U.S. forces in Baquba detained a would-be suicide bomber Tuesday after a chase through the northwestern portion of the city, the military told CNN.

The man was attempting to pull the trigger on his suicide vest when he was tackled by a U.S. soldier, the military said. The would-be bomber was wounded at some point during the chase.

On patrol around midday, the U.S. forces found a suspicious vehicle parked in the Mujima neighborhood. Upon investigating, the troops found the vehicle had been rigged to be a bomb with various switches, although no explosives were present.

At about 3 p.m., the soldiers went back on patrol, only to see another suspicious vehicle approach as they were talking with residents. The vehicle abruptly turned away, the military said, but the soldiers fired a shot into the vehicle's gas tank and followed the gas trail, eventually cornering the vehicle.

Three armed men attacked, the military said, and the soldiers killed one, then chased the other two, who fled on foot, cornering them as well. Both insurgents, including the one found to be wearing a suicide vest, were detained.

Bodies found in drainage canal

Iraqi police found three bodies Tuesday in al-Rustumiya drainage canal in southeastern Baghdad, according to an Iraqi police official who said the bodies showed signs of torture and were shot dead. The bodies have not been identified, the official said.

In a possible case of sectarian violence, gunmen stormed a poultry farm south of Baghdad Monday night, killing four Shiite workers, a police spokesman told CNN.

Police found a note next to the bodies that said the victims "deserve to die" because they were Shiites.

The attack took place in the Ajbala district of al-Mahawil, about 40 miles (65 km) south of Baghdad.

Also in al-Mahawil, a roadside bomb struck an Iraqi police patrol late Monday, killing one police officer and wounding two others.

Separately, five Iraqi police were wounded when a roadside bomb struck a police patrol in northern Baghdad's al-Bunook neighborhood at about 8 a.m. Monday, the official said.

U.S. allies withdraw troops from Iraq

Poland's government on Tuesday asked President Lech Kaczynski to keep the country's troops in Iraq for another year, reversing plans by a previous government to bring them home in early 2006.

But Deputy Defense Minister Stanislaw Koziej said troop levels would be cut from around 1,500 to 900 in March. Ukraine and Bulgaria both said Tuesday that they had completed the withdrawal of their troops from Iraq. (Full Story)

CNN's Arwa Damon, Cal Perry and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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