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Bomb hits gathering of sheiks opposing al Qaeda

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  • NEW: At least two killed in attack on sheik's home south of Baghdad
  • NEW: Four more U.S. troops killed this week, U.S. military says
  • NEW: Explosively formed penetrator kills two in central Baghdad near Green Zone

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least two people were killed and six were wounded south of Baghdad on Wednesday when bombers targeted a gathering of sheiks opposed to al Qaeda in Iraq, police in Babil province said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces inspect a vehicle hit by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Wednesday.

The suicide bomber struck the house of Sheik Imad al-Kardani in Iskandariya, where the sheiks' meeting was being held, and a car bomb then exploded outside the house, police said.

The sheiks and the al-Kardani tribe are part of the "Iskandariya Awakening," one of Iraq's emerging "awakening" movements -- the grass-roots citizen groups opposing al Qaeda in Iraq.

Meanwhile, an explosively formed penetrator detonated in central Baghdad Wednesday, killing a Multi-National Division-Baghdad soldier and an Iraqi civilian, the U.S. military said.

Five soldiers and two civilians were wounded by the EFP explosive -- a type of powerful roadside bomb that the military has linked to Iranian agents helping Iraqi insurgents.

This appears to be the same incident reported earlier outside the Green Zone, in which a roadside bomb detonated.

The explosion killed at least two civilians and wounded two others, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The Green Zone is the seat of U.S. military and U.S. diplomatic agencies as well as the location of the Iraqi government and parliament, the official said.

U.S. military spokesman said the attack occurred when troops were operating near a checkpoint and a vehicle "came in contact with an improvised explosive device."

Separately, a parked car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, wounding at least six Iraqis -- including two police officers -- Wednesday afternoon, an Interior Ministry official said.

The U.S. military Wednesday announced the deaths of four more American troops in Iraq.

A Multi-National Corps-Iraq soldier was killed on Wednesday during military operations near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The soldier was fatally wounded by gunfire "while providing security to a Police Transitional Team training mission near an Iraqi police station," the military said.

Two Multi-National Division-North soldiers died Tuesday in a blast during operations while conducting operations in Diyala, northeast of Baghdad. Four other soldiers were wounded in the incident.

Another soldier died Monday of wounds from a small arms fire attack by enemy forces.

There have been 20 U.S. troop deaths so far in November and 3,864 military deaths in the Iraq war, including seven civilian employees of the Defense Department.

A U.S. military official in Iraq noted Wednesday that there have been security successes in Baghdad and the surrounding area recently, but he warned that progress is still "fragile and far from irreversible."

"It would be unwise and irresponsible to declare victory and disestablish the security framework that has led to the progress and relative calm we are now witnessing," said Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, a U.S. military spokesman, referring to the U.S. and Iraqi security crackdowns in and near Baghdad.

He said the areas around Baghdad are "experiencing increased security," but could not be considered "safe and secure yet."

Smith used Jamiya, a section of Baghdad's Mansour district, as an example of progress, saying attacks have dropped from six per week in June to one per week in October. Security responsibility is being transferred to the neighborhood's citizen volunteers and they will be integrated into Iraq's police forces, Smith said.

Smith noted "significant progress" against al Qaeda in Iraq in the Operation Iron Hammer military offensive in Nineveh, Salaheddin, Tameem and Diyala provinces in northern Iraq. He cited the detention of more than 200 suspected terrorists, the arrest of three high-value al Qaeda operatives, and the seizure of weapons caches. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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