20 December 2004 -- Iraqi Shi'ite Muslim leaders have urged their supporters to show restraint following bombings in the Shi'ite holy cities of Al-Najaf and Karbala that killed at least 62 people and injured more than 100 others.
Cleric Muhammad Bahr al-Uloum said attempts to ignite a sectarian war in Iraq and prevent the 30 January elections from going forward as scheduled had failed before and would fail again.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the apparently coordinated car bombings on 19 December, which left 48 dead in Al-Najaf and 14 dead in Karbala.
The attacks were the first major violence in the two holy cities since clashes earlier this year between U.S.-led forces and Shi'ite militiamen.
In Baghdad yesterday, gunmen pulled three Iraqi electoral officials from a car and executed them in a street of the capital.
(Reuters/AP/AFP)For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated The New Iraq webpage.