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Seven people killed in bombings across Iraq

Six Iraqi security officers and one civilian were killed in bombings across Iraq, as leaders prepared for talks over the next Govt.

india Updated: Apr 29, 2006 19:57 IST

Six Iraqi security officers and one civilian were killed in bombings and shootings across Iraq on Saturday, as leaders prepared for negotiations over the next government.

Two police officers died when a roadside bomb hit a convoy carrying the police chief of Baiji, a northern town known for its oil refinery, police said.

Five policemen were also wounded in the attack, apparently targeting police chief Sufian Mustafa, who escaped unscathed.

In another attack, two people, including a policeman, were killed execution-style when gunmen grabbed them in Zurf al-Sakhar, a village some 65 kilometers south of Baghdad.

"The gunmen took the two out of their houses and shot them in front of their homes," an interior ministry official said.

One police commando was killed and three others wounded by a roadside bomb targeting their patrol in northwestern Baghdad's Al-Ghazalia neighbourhood.

Two Iraqi army soldiers were killed and six others wounded when insurgents opened fire on their convoy in Suwera, southeast of Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

Also in Suwera, five male bodies were found floating in the Tigris river, while two other bodies were recovered in Baghdad, an interior ministry official said.

The corpses were riddled with bullets in what has become a common sight since the February bombing of a Shiite shrine north of Baghdad sparked a cycle of tit-for-tat killings among Iraq's newly empowered Shiite majority and former Sunni elite.

The sectarian-fueled strife has uprooted tens of thousands of Iraqis from their homes as families flee from neighbourhoods where they once lived in peace with other sects.

Nearly 14,000 families are now homeless as a result of the violence, Iraq's outgoing Shiite Minister of Migration and Displacement, Suhaila Abed Jaafar, said.

The number translates to more than 70,000 individuals.

Meanwhile, Baquba, the restive Iraqi city northeast of Baghdad, remained calm after two days of battle between security forces and insurgents.

On Saturday authorities lifted a two-day curfew after fighting eased.

Insurgents had mounted coordinated attacks on checkpoints in and around Baquba, the provincial capital of the Diyala province, since Thursday in a bid to seize control of the city.

Several dozen people died in the violence, including at least 25 insurgents, while 51 rebels were captured during the skirmishes.

Iraq's major parliamentary blocs geared up for a meeting Sunday on the formation of a national unity government.

"We were to meet today, but postponed the meeting to Sunday so that everybody is prepared for negotiations," said Zhafer al-Ani, spokesman of Sunni-led National Concord Front, a key group of Sunni lawmakers holding 44 seats in Iraq's 275-member parliament.

The Kurdish bloc has already publicly said it wants the oil or finance ministry portfolios, if it does not retain control of the foreign ministry.

Last week, Iraq broke the deadlock over who would lead the new government by nominating conservative Shiite leader Nuri al-Maliki for premier.

Maliki has until May 21 to form the new cabinet.

Nearly three years after US President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq on May 1, 2003, Washington sees a national unity government in Iraq as the key for an eventual withdrawal of its 132,000 troops.

Since April 1, about 70 US servicemen have died, making it the deadliest month for US soldiers so far this year, according to an AFP count based on Pentagon figures.