[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 19 August 2007, 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK
Baghdad mortar attack kills seven
Man rushes injured baby to hospital in Sadr City after the mortar attack on 19 August
A baby was among those injured by the mortar blasts
At least seven people have been killed and 31 injured by a mortar attack on a mainly Shia eastern suburb of Baghdad, security officials say.

Women and children are said to be among the dead and wounded and a number of houses were damaged in the area, close to the giant Shia slum of Sadr City.

Police said the mortars were fired during clashes between US forces and militiamen.

The attack came as Iraqi leaders met to address a mounting political crisis.

With nearly half the cabinet posts now empty, these are the first political talks of their kind in two months, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge, in Baghdad.

Prisoner issue

Some progress is said to have been made in the first round of talks on Saturday at which Iraq's Sunni Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashemi, raised the issue of detainees held without charge.

Most such detainees are believed to be Sunnis.

Mr Hashemi had personally visited a tented prison camp in eastern Baghdad, talking to detainees pressed against the wire mesh walls and promising to work for better treatment for them.

His office released video footage of the visit afterwards.

The vice-president's party is part of a Sunni political grouping that has withdrawn ministers from the government, in part over the detention issue.

Our correspondent notes that the government has been speaking of political paralysis in the country, hampering the passage of important legislation and clearly making it no easier to tackle the violence.

President Jalal Talabani described the first round of talks on Saturday as one of the most important meetings he had ever attended.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police said 15 men were taken off a bus by masked gunmen in broad daylight in the centre of the Iraqi capital.

They were ordered to walk towards a mainly Sunni area nearby and have not been seen since.

Kidnappings were common in Baghdad in the past though there has been something of a lull in recent times, our correspondent adds.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific