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Iraqi Government Extends Baghdad Car Ban --> Scene in Karbala after car bomb exploded in market on 25 February (epa) 25 February 2006 -- The Iraqi government today announced an extension of its ban on car travel in Baghdad in an effort to contain the sectarian violence that has convulsed the country since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra on 22 February.

The new ban is now set to expire the morning of 27 February.

However, the Interior Ministry said it was lifting the daytime curfew in three provinces surrounding Baghdad.

Violence has meanwhile continued in Iraq. The bodies of 14 police commandos were recovered in Baghdad after overnight clashes in the south of the city.

Elsewhere, a car bomb exploded at a street market in the southern city of Karbala, killing several people and wounding dozens.

The explosion came shortly after gunmen shot dead 12 farm laborers near the city of Ba'qubah, northeast of Baghdad.

In a separate incident, a bomb attack on the funeral procession in Baghdad of a correspondent for Al-Arabiyah television killed at least two people and wounded several others.

(AP, Reuters, AFP)
Reactions To The Samarra Attack
Demonstrators in Baghdad on February 23 (epa)

Iraqi religious and government leaders, as well as international officials, condemned the February 22 bomb attack that wrecked the Golden Mosque, a major Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Samarra. Below is a selection of statements on the incident.

"This new ugly crime comes as a warning that there is a conspiracy against the Iraqi people to spark a war among brothers. God willing, we will not allow this.... We must cooperate and work together against this danger, the danger of civil war. This is the fiercest danger because it threatens our unity and our country with a devastating civil war." -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani

"The timing of this crime indicates that one of its aims is to stall the political process and to hamper the negotiations on the formation of a national-unity government." -- President Talabani

"I announce on this occasion three days of mourning. I hope our heroic people will take more care on this occasion to bolster Islamic unity and protect Islamic brotherhood and Iraqi national brotherhood." -- Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari

"Oh honorable people of Samarra! We should stand as one, united in confronting terrorism.... This assault is an assault on all Muslims." -- Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabur

"They will fail to draw the Iraqi people into civil war as they have failed in the past." -- Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i

"If the security systems are unable to secure necessary protection, the believers are able to do so with the might of God." -- Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani

"We will not only condemn and protest but we will act against those militants. If the Iraqi government does not do its job to defend the Iraqi people we are ready to do so." -- Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, speaking through spokesman Abdel Hadi al-Darajee

(compiled by Reuters)

For more reactions, click here and here.

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