Bombing near Shiite shrine kills 14

Updated: 2007-06-28 11:13
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BAGHDAD - America's No. 2 diplomat in Iraq predicted progress by fall on bringing together Iraq's feuding factions as violence claimed more lives Wednesday, including 14 people killed in a late night car bombing near a Shiite shrine in the capital.

Bombing near Shiite shrine kills 14
Iraqis gather around a car that was hit by small arms fire in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, June 27, 2007. [AP]
Bombing near Shiite shrine kills 14
In all, at least 60 Iraqis were killed or found dead across the country, most of them in the Baghdad area, according to police reports. Also Wednesday, one American soldier was killed and four were wounded in a roadside bombing in east Baghdad, the US command said.

US officials have been pressing the Iraqis to enact a series of laws designed to bring together the country's warring factions, curb the violence and arrest the slide in support for the US mission among the American people and Congress.

During a news conference Wednesday, the second-ranking US diplomat in Iraq said he was hopeful that the Iraqis would make progress on "some" legislation by September.

That's when Gen. David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to submit a report on prospects for ending the violence.

The report is expected to mark a watershed in the troubled American effort to build a stable democracy in Iraq in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

"We're in a very significant period of political turmoil. ... But we do expect Iraqis to work through these issues," US diplomat Daniel Speckhard told reporters. "My expectations are still that they'll rise to the challenge of producing some key legislation by September."

Speckhard said much work has been done in Iraq's parliament on a US-backed law that would regulate the oil industry and distribute revenues among all the country's ethnic and sectarian groups.

Other "benchmark" bills would amend the constitution, allow many former members of Saddam's Baath party to get back government jobs and arrange new elections for provincial posts.

All those measures have stalled because of political divisions within the Cabinet and parliament.

In a bid to overcome those differences, an aide to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said two major Shiite parties had signed a "charter of honor" to form a new, streamlined Cabinet of technocrats whose members would be appointed on merit and not sectarian affiliation.

The aide, Hassan al-Suneid, said the two major Kurdish parties would sign the pact soon. It was unclear whether the biggest Sunni party was ready to sign on too.

Despite talk of progress, violence continued Wednesday.

In the deadliest attack, at least 14 people were killed and 22 were wounded when a parked car exploded late Wednesday near a major Shiite shrine in the Kazimiyah district of northern Baghdad, police said. The victims were mostly local residents enjoying a warm summer evening.

Khazim al-Taie said he was selling soft drinks at his stand "when I heard a big explosion followed by a big ball of fire."

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