05/08/2006, 00.00
IRAQ
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Leaders close to a deal as car bombs explode

In the last two days there has been some of the bloodiest violence of recent weeks. In Baghdad and Karbala 33 are killed. Politicians meet again and PM-designate al-Maliki says he will soon name his cabinet.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Between yesterday and today a series of car bombs killed 33 people and wounded another 89 in some of the bloodiest violence of recent weeks. Six bodies were also found. Meanwhile leaders are closer to striking a deal to form a national unity government

Attacks were reported in Baghdad, in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and in Baquba. In the capital a suicide bomber hit an Iraqi army patrol in the mainly Sunni northern district of Aadhamiya, killing eight and wounding 15, including soldiers and civilians. Iraqi and US forces had conducted a sweep for Sunni guerrillas in Aadhamiya the day before.

Two other bombs exploded in a street of the capital wounding 17 people, whilst a bus driver was killed and four Education Ministry officials were hurt in an attack by armed men in Baghdad's Yarmuk neighbourhood. Yesterday another car bomb exploded in the north of the capital killing a civilian and wounding five. In Karbala a suicide car bomber blew up near the bus station killing 21 people and wounding 52.

The Interior Ministry announced that in the last 24 hours the bodies of 43 men were found. Sunni leaders claim they were killed in apparent sectarian attacks by Shiite militias close to the government and the police.

Sunni-Shiite bloodshed has prompted warnings that Iraq is sliding towards civil war and added urgency to efforts by political leaders to form a unity government that can reverse the trend.

The Shiite Prime Minister-designate Nuri (Jawad) al-Maliki announced that he will name his cabinet shortly.

Representatives of the Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis met again yesterday. On Saturday, the Shi'ite vice-president said he expected a deal "in the next few days".

The southern city of Basra was largely calm yesterday after a British helicopter was apparently shot down killing five soldiers, followed by clashes between British troops and crowds that left five Iraqi civilians dead.

A more positive signal comes from Iraqi Kurdistan where the two major political parties—President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Massud Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)—announced the creation of a single Kurdish regional administration in northern Iraq.

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