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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 21:58 GMT
Baghdad mortar barrage kills 16
Residents after an attack in Doura district on 10 February
Doura district has often been attacked by insurgents
A barrage of mortar attacks in southern Baghdad has killed at least 16 Iraqis, while seven others died across Iraq.

A police source told the BBC that a total of eight mortars had been fired into the mainly Shia area of Doura.

The attacks come after days of sectarian tensions that have left at least 165 dead since Wednesday.

Political and militia leaders say they have made progress in talks to curb the violence that was sparked by the bombing of a major Shia shrine.

However, an explosion hit a Shia shrine in the southern city of Basra on Sunday.

But the bomb, placed in the building's toilets, caused little damage and there were no serious injuries.

The mortar rounds were fired into the neighbourhood of Doura - first into residential streets and then at a fruit market.

Doura is frequently targeted by insurgents, says the BBC's Jon Brain in Baghdad.

Earlier this week, 11 people were killed in the same district by a car bomb.

A daytime curfew in Baghdad, imposed to try to contain the spiralling violence, has been lifted but a 24-hour ban on road traffic remains in place.

    In other violence on Sunday:

  • Two people are killed and six others are wounded when gunmen open fire on a group of people playing football near Baquba, 60km (36 miles) north-east of Baghdad

  • Two US soldiers die in a roadside bombing in Baghdad

  • A doctor is shot dead in his surgery in Mosul

  • A police officer is killed and two are wounded by roadside bombs near Madain, south of Baghdad

  • In Ramadi, a general in the army under Saddam Hussein is shot dead

  • The bodies of three men, bound and shot in the head, are discovered outside Baghdad

  • A bomb in Hilla, south of Baghdad, injures five people at a bus station

Security deal

Salah al-Mutluq, who heads the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, told the BBC a new security plan had been worked out by Sunni and Shia leaders that could help relieve tensions.

It involved removing Shia-dominated interior ministry forces, including police, from sensitive Sunni areas.

The Iraqi people have one enemy; it is terrorism and only terrorism. There are no Sunnis against Shia
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari

Instead, these districts would be patrolled by the Iraqi army and multinational troops, he said.

Interior ministry police have been implicated in a number of "death squad" killings of Sunnis.

Residents of Abu Ghraib in western Baghdad told the BBC on Sunday that the Iraqi army appeared already to have taken over street patrols from interior ministry forces.

The bombing of the al-Askari shrine in the city of Samarra, one of the country's holiest Shia sites, has led to fears that Iraq may descend into civil war.




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