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Iraq Transition

U.S.: 30 rebels killed in mostly Shiite Iraqi city

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi and U.S. troops Sunday continued to search neighborhoods in Diwaniya, hours after a bloody raid in the city netted a "high-value target" and left 30 insurgents dead, according to U.S. and Iraqi military spokesmen.

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said the joint forces are sealing off major roads in the neighborhoods of al-Askari and al-Chalabi in Diwaniya, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad.

Police have reported hearing gunfire and occasional explosions in the two neighborhoods where Sunday's searches were taking place.

No coalition soldiers were wounded or killed in the fighting, the military said, which took place about 95 miles (150 kilometers) south of Baghdad. Diwaniya, is a stronghold of the Mehdi Army, the militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The operation netted a "high-value target," who was believed involved in the murder of an Iraqi soldier in August, the military said. Three other people also were captured in the operation, according to the military. (Watch what it's like to battle "ghost fighters" in Iraq -- 2:19)

The fighting began Saturday night as insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and small arms at Iraqi and U.S. troops, the military said. Three RPG rounds hit a U.S. Abrams tank, severely damaging it.

U.S. and Iraqi troops fought back, killing 30 insurgents, the military said. The U.S. soldiers were from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.

Iraq foreign minister disputes senator

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Sunday that the situation in Iraq "is not as desperate as people think," despite a recent warning from a top Republican U.S. senator.

Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Thursday that Washington should reconsider its strategy in Iraq if things don't turn around in the next few months. (Watch as people question if U.S. Iraq strategy is failing -- 2:29)

Warner said "the situation is simply drifting sideways" and the Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is "simply not living up or not able to meet just the fundamental responsibilities of a government operating through agencies."

Zebari disagreed that the Iraqi government was stalled or stopped during an appearance on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

"We all admit [the government] has a serious challenge and it needs to rise up to that challenge to improve security, to deliver on what it has pledged the people," Zebari said. "This has been slow, but we have been moving steadily forward, actually." (Watch former Air Force general on how to win in Iraq -- 3:28)

U.S. soldiers killed

Three U.S. soldiers and three Marines were killed in separate attacks in Iraq over the weekend, bringing the total number of U.S. military deaths to 27 for the month of October.

The most recent deaths include a soldier assigned to the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, who died in a roadside bomb attack, and a soldier assigned to Multi-National Division-Baghdad, who was killed by small-arms fire. Both attacks occurred on Saturday, according to the U.S. military.

Three Marines died on Friday during operations in Anbar province, the U.S. military announced Sunday. The Marines were assigned to the Regimental Combat Team 5.

Also, a U.S. soldier died Friday from "enemy action" during an operation near the Iraqi city of Baiji, the military announced on Saturday.

The number of U.S. military personnel killed in the Iraq war stands at 2,734 troops and seven Defense Department civilian employees, according to military reports.

16 killed in insurgent attacks

Other attacks across Iraq late Saturday and Sunday left 16 dead -- most of them Iraqi police and soldiers -- and 40 others wounded, according to Iraqi police reports.

A roadside bomb targeting an Iraqi police patrol in central Baghdad's al-Nasr square wounded 20 people, including four Iraqi police, around 1:30 p.m., police said.

A roadside bomb Sunday morning struck the convoy of a Rabiha police chief Col. Yahya Hamed, killing him and critically wounding three other police officers, Mosul police said. The attack happened Hamed headed to work in Rabiha, a town located northwest of Mosul in northern Iraq.

Five people were killed in four separate gun attacks Sunday morning in Baquba, a city about 40 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

Two people died after a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside a hospital in Muqdadiya, about 25 miles north of Baquba, at about noon Sunday, police said. The dead included an Iraqi soldier and seven people, including two Iraqi soldiers, were wounded, police said.

In the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit on Sunday, a roadside bomb blast killed four civilians and wounded two others, police said.

Gunmen in Samarra shot to death an Iraqi police officer and his son as they were leaving a mosque on Saturday evening, police said.

In eastern Baghdad, six Iraqi police were wounded when a roadside bomb exploded near their patrol on Palestine Street at 6 a.m. Sunday, police said.

In northern Baghdad's Waziriya neighborhood, an Iraqi police officer was killed when a mortar round hit a patrol, police said. Two other people, including a police officer, were wounded by the blast, police said.

In central Baghdad's Fadhal district, Col. Thamer Salman, a senior police official in the internal affairs department of Iraq's Interior Ministry, was found shot to death at 11:30 p.m. Saturday night, police said.

Also in Baghdad, police on Sunday found 20 bullet-riddled bodies scattered across the city, some showing signs of torture. More than 200 bodies have been found in similar condition in the Iraqi capital since the end of September. Police believe the killings are the result of Sunni-Shiite sectarian violence.

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

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Smoke rises from a vehicle in Baghdad during clashes between Iraqi police and gunmen Sunday.

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