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B'dad bombs kill 30, rural Shi'ite shrines wrecked

Violence also flared in southern Iraq where two British soldiers were killed.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 01:41 IST
UNI

Bombs killed 30 people in Baghdad on Sunday and sectarian attacks wrecked six Shi'ite shrines in a rural area, adding to pressure on Iraq's rival leaders to agree on the formation of a unity government.

With a week left for Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki to meet a constitutional deadline to present a broad-based coalition Washington hopes will avert a slide towards civil war, a series of blasts hit Baghdad. Two suicide bombers in cars killed 14 Iraqis at the entrance to Baghdad airport.

Violence also flared in southern Iraq where two British soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb attack in Basra, Iraq's second city. Last week, a British military helicopter came down there, possibly hit by a rocket, killing five troops and sparking clashes between British forces and militias.

US and Iraqi officials have said the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is stepping up a campaign to target majority Shi'ites in and around Baghdad in an attempt to provoke retaliatory attacks against minority Sunnis, dominant under Saddam Hussein, and ignite all-out sectarian warfare.

There were more signs of factional wrangling over key posts delaying the formation of the government. Maliki, a Shi'ite Islamist, has repeatedly expressed confidence he would put together a cabinet of Shi'ites, Sunni Arabs and Kurds well within his 30-day deadline. He is now running it close.

Witnesses near Baghdad's airport saw three burnt out trucks and a car in a car park used by Iraqi civilians.

The sprawling zone contains the civilian airport and a number of palaces once used by Saddam Hussein and now housing military bases, among them the US military headquarters.

This was not an attack on the compound," the US military said. "It targeted Iraqis congregated in a parking lot."

Rubble

No one was hurt in the blasts that destroyed small shrines in a rural area north of Baghdad yesterday, the latest in a string of sectarian attacks that have soared since bombs in February wrecked a major Shi'ite shrine in Samarra and sparked communal bloodshed.