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Iraq Transition

Renewed violence rocks Iraq amid calls for calm

Three U.S. soldiers killed in Baghdad amid sectarian strife



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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least 25 people were killed and scores wounded Sunday in a string of violent attacks that rocked Iraq despite calls from Iraqi and U.S. leaders to end sectarian bloodshed.

The dead included three U.S. soldiers who were killed in two incidents in Iraq's capital.

Sunday's deadliest attack came in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora, where 15 people were killed and 45 others wounded when six mortar rounds landed in a residential area.

In the southern city of Basra, an explosion wounded two civilians outside a Shiite holy site -- the Imam Ali shrine, an Iraqi military spokesman said.

The blast came shortly after a radical Shiite cleric visited the city to rally for Muslim unity.

Muqtada al-Sadr called on demonstrators to hold joint prayers next Friday at Sunni mosques hit by the past days' violence. He also renewed his call for U.S.-led coalition troops to withdraw from Iraq, according to Reuters.

More than 200 people have been killed in violence since Wednesday, when insurgents bombed Samarra's Al-Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine also known as the Golden Mosque. The mosque is considered one of the holiest of Shiite sites.

Many of the attacks have pitted Shiites and Sunnis against one another.

The bombing in Samarra triggered reprisals across Iraq, including the killings of Sunnis, attacks on their mosques and mass protests. (Watch: Are militias being kept in check? -- 1:43)

Other violence Sunday included:

  • In Baquba, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a crowd of teenagers playing soccer. Two people were killed and six wounded.
  • In Madaan, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed an Iraqi police commando and wounded two others who were on patrol Sunday morning.
  • In the northern city of Mosul, a car bomb killed a woman and wounded four other Iraqi civilians near a U.S. convoy, officials said. Mosul, the third-largest city in Iraq, was also the scene of deadly clashes between Iraqi police and insurgents. Police said three insurgents were killed and six people were wounded in the battles.
  • In Hilla, at least five people were wounded when a parked Kia minibus detonated in the city's main bus station, a city police spokesman said. Hilla, about 62 miles (100 kilometers) south of Baghdad, is a mostly Shiite city and the capital of Babil province.
  • In the capital, gunmen attacked three Sunni mosques, according to an official with Baghdad emergency police. No one was hurt.
  • Despite the violence, Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said the country is not descending into civil war.

    He blamed Jordanian-born terror suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al Qaeda in Iraq group for instigating the violence.

    But he said, "The Iraqi people ... have shown al Qaeda in Iraq and the outside world that they will never be driven to the civil war." (Full story)

    Three U.S. soldiers killed

    Two of Sunday's U.S. troop fatalities happened when a roadside bomb detonated in western Baghdad, a coalition press office said.

    One soldier died immediately after the attack; the other died later at a military hospital.

    Another U.S. soldier was killed by small-arms fire Sunday evening in central Baghdad, the military said. The incident was under investigation, and the soldier's name was withheld pending notification of relatives.

    Since the Iraq war began in 2003, 2,290 U.S. service members have died.

    Show of solidarity

    On Saturday, Iraq's leaders from virtually all political factions met in a dramatic show of solidarity to discuss the formation of a national unity government.

    The meeting included representatives of the Iraqi Accord Front, which had announced a boycott of talks following violent reprisals against their fellow Sunnis.

    The gathering, televised live on Iraqi TV, included Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, President Jalal Talabani and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, also attended.

    Bolstering the show of unity were Shiite and Sunni religious and political leaders who met earlier in an effort to promote peace. They included representatives of al-Sadr, the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Iraqi Accord Front.

    In phone calls, President Bush pledged support to seven prominent Iraqis -- including al-Jaafari and Talabani -- for their leadership in the aftermath of the Golden Mosque bombing last week, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones said.

    The office of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said Bush also called him expressing sorrow and "affirmed America's support in rebuilding the mosque."

    On Friday, al-Hakim, a top Shiite political figure, joined the top Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in urging Iraqis to remain calm and unite against extremists.

    To prevent sectarian violence from spiraling into civil war, authorities imposed an extended curfew Saturday.

    The overnight curfews were scheduled to be lifted Sunday morning in the provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddin. Baghdad and its suburbs were observing an extended 24-hour curfew through 6 a.m. Monday.

    This curfew comes after a second daylight curfew for those regions. (Watch how the curfews went -- 2:08)

    CNN's Terence Burke, Arwa Damon, David Ensor, Ingrid Formanek, Elise Labott, Elaine Quijano, Aneesh Raman, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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