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Iraq Transition

Sunni official: Iraq may seek U.N. troops

Saddam Hussein trial adjourned for two weeks
U.S soldiers secure the site of an explosion outside the heavily fortified Green Zone on Tuesday.


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• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi politicians are considering a formal request for U.N. troops to provide security, a Sunni official said on Tuesday, as attackers killed as many as 37 people across the country.

Alaa Makki -- a spokesman for the country's largest Sunni bloc, the Iraqi Accord Front -- said it took six hours for Americans to respond to the killing of at least 40 unarmed Sunnis in western Baghdad Sunday. Iraqi security forces didn't respond at all, he said.

In Washington, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, concluded that a security crackdown launched last month in the capital "has not produced the results expected so far."

Their comments coincided with the killing of 10 people on a bus and a separate attack that killed between five and 16 people near Baghdad's fortified Green Zone. In addition, gunmen kidnapped an Iraqi diplomat from his western Baghdad house Tuesday morning, police said. The diplomat was posted in Iran and was in Baghdad on leave.

The bus was carrying a coffin from Baghdad to Najaf for burial when gunmen stormed it at 10 a.m. (2 a.m. ET) in the Baghdad neighborhood of Dora and killed everyone on board.

Najaf is a city holy to Shiites, and the burial of people there is a common Shiite practice.

Differing accounts were given of what happened in a separate deadly bombing near the Green Zone, which serves as headquarters for U.S. and Iraqi government officials.

According to the Multinational Corps-Iraq, "Three bombs detonated outside of the International Zone at approximately 10:50 a.m., reportedly killing 15 local nationals and an Iraqi policeman" and wounding four locals.

The statement said the incident occurred just north of the Green Zone, and indicated two people with suicide vests blew themselves up after a bomb went off.

Iraqi police, however, told CNN a bomber was parking a car by a restaurant near an Iraqi police checkpoint around 11 a.m. when police became suspicious and gave chase. At that point, the vehicle exploded, killing the man inside, police added.

Five people were killed and 12 others wounded, police said.

In other incidents reported Tuesday:

  • Gunmen entered a company in central Baghdad's Mansour neighborhood at 12:30 p.m. and killed three people and wounded three others.
  • At about the same time, a car bomb killed two people and wounded five on the main road in the capital's Karrada district, a busy stretch with shops.
  • Gunmen fired on a minibus in Taji, north of Baghdad, killing a passenger and wounding five others around 10:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), police said.
  • A parked car exploded near a Shiite prayer center in western Baghdad, wounding five civilians around 4:15 p.m. (8:15 a.m. ET). A mortar exploded near another prayer center in Dora, wounding six civilians.
  • A mortar also slammed into a police station in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Saydia, wounding four policemen, followed by a car bomb near the station entrance, wounding four civilians. A few hours later, a car bomb in the same neighborhood killed five civilians and wounded 15 others.
  • Meanwhile, the Iraqi Accord Front said it would end a weeklong boycott of parliament on Wednesday after winning promises that a female colleague kidnapped by an armed group would be freed soon.

    "We received promises she will be released within two days. They [the kidnappers] said she was being held as a guest," Reuters quoted Nooreddine al-Hayali of the Iraqi Accord Front as saying.

    Khalilzad: Crackdown under review

    Khalilzad said Wednesday that the Baghdad security crackdown by Iraqi forces backed by the U.S. military "is being reviewed and adjustments will be made."

    Khalilzad spoke Tuesday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington and answered questions from reporters. "No, it has not performed to the level that was expected," he said.

    Khalilzad said political measures to bring communities together have fostered progress, but "at another level things have gotten worse."

    Among the solutions for establishing law and order, he said, are developing a "more effective police force" and dealing with a persistent problem -- the existence of private militias.

    "Securing Baghdad is critical," Khalilzad said.

    Despite the "significant" sectarian strife, Khalilzad said there are factors that lead him to conclude that the country has not descended into civil war.

    "State institutions are holding," and leaders of different communities want to remain in the government, he said.

    However, Khalilzad said, "violent sectarianism" has become "the main challenge" since the February 22 bombing of the Askariya Mosque, a Shiite shrine in Samarra.

    Hussein trial adjourned

    The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's trial adjourned it for two weeks to give court-appointed lawyers time to prepare closing arguments in case a boycott of the court by private attorneys over security and procedural matters continues. (Full story)

    "The original lawyers not attending are only harming their clients," said Chief Judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel Rahman on Tuesday.

    "In case any lawyer does not attend, the court will hear closing arguments from the court-appointed lawyers," he warned, setting the next court date for July 24 to allow the court-appointed lawyers to prepare.

    The case focuses on a 1982 government crackdown on Shiites in the city of Dujail after an assassination attempt on the former Iraqi dictator.

    Former soldier's attorney seeks gag order

    Public defenders for a former U.S. soldier charged in connection with the alleged rape and murder of a young Iraqi female and the murder of her family requested a gag order in the case.

    "This case has received prominent and often sensational coverage in virtually all print, electronic and Internet news media in the world," said the motion filed by Scott Wendelsdorf and Patrick Bouldin, public defenders for former Pfc. Steven D. Green, in Louisville, Kentucky. (Details)

    Green and four other soldiers are charged with murder and rape in the March incident. Another soldier has been charged with failing to report the incident but was not accused of participating. All five are charged with conspiring with Green to commit the crimes.

    A video showing the bodies of two U.S. soldiers kidnapped and killed last month south of Baghdad claimed they were killed in retaliation for the alleged rape of the young woman in March.

    The U.S. military has said no evidence links the incidents and on Tuesday it condemned the video, saying "it demonstrates the barbaric and brutal nature of the terrorists and their complete disregard for human life."

    CNN cannot independently authenticate the video, which does not show the actual killings of the soldiers.

    CNN's Arwa Damon and Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.

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