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Attacks Kill, Injure Scores In Baghdad

8 February 2005 -- The U.S. military said a suicide bomber killed 21 people and injured 27 outside an Iraqi Army recruitment center today while Iraqi officials blamed the explosion on mortar fire.

Also in Baghdad today, armed men attacked a prominent Iraqi politician's convoy, killing two of his sons.

An Al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq claimed responsibility for today's explosion near the recruiting center.

It came one day after suicide bombers killed at least 24 people -- mostly police officers -- in the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Baquba.

Iraqi Shi'ite politician Mithal al-Alusi, who heads the U.S.-backed De-Ba'athification Commission and has been a vocal critic of Syria and Iran, survived the attack in western Baghdad.

But his two sons died of gunshot wounds.

Al-Alusi vowed afterward that the perpetrators of the attack would not prevent peace from returning to Iraq.

"If they think that, by trying to kill Mithal al-Alusi, they will make those who call for peace stop, then they are completely wrong," al-Alusi said. "We will call for peace, we will call for peace with all the neighboring countries. We will call for peace will all the countries in the region. We will call to fight terrorism of any kind or shape."

A spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani meanwhile said today that the Iraqi Shi'ite leader is not demanding the country's new constitution be based on Shari'a, or Islamic law.

The spokesman, Hamid Al-Khafaf, said al-Sistani maintains his previous position that the new constitution should respect the Islamic cultural identity of the Iraqi people.


[For more RFE/RL news and analysis on events in Iraq, click here.]