19 December 2004 -- Iraqi Shi'ite leaders are calling for restraint after car bombings in two Shi'ite holy cities killed some 62 people and injured over 100 others.
The bombings, in Al-Najaf and Karbala, occurred near crowded bus stations. Shi'ite cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Uloum and Shi'ite Dawa Party official Haidar al-Ubadi said Muslim militants and Ba'athists are trying to lure Shi'ites into violence to disrupt the January elections.
A spokesman for radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also called for restraint, saying civil war would be "hell." Hospital officials in Al-Najaf say the blast there killed at least 48 and wounded 90.
The explosion in Karbala earlier killed as many as 14 and wounded 30 others. The blasts follow an attack in Baghdad today in which gunmen killed an Iraqi election worker and his bodyguards.
In the northern town of Hawija, police say gunmen killed four Kurds today. They said the attackers escaped. Kurds accuse Ba'athist loyalists of orchestrating attacks on their community.