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Bombers Attack Sunni Mosque In Al-Basrah

Sunni mosque attacked in Al-Zubair near Al-Basrah (AFP) June 16, 2007 -- Bombers attacked a Sunni mosque in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah today. The bombing of the al-Ashrah al-Mubarasha mosque was the second attack on a Sunni mosque in as many days in the predominantly Shi'ite city.

On June 15, militants pretending to be a film crew attacked a Sunni mosque on the outskirts of Al-Basrah.

There have been a series of attacks on Sunni mosques across Iraq since bombers blew up two minarets of the Shi'ite Al-Askari shrine in the city of Samarra on June 13.

Radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, called today for Iraqis to march to the mainly Sunni city of Samarra on July 5 to protest the bombing of the key Shi'ite Al-Askari shrine.

"I hope the Sunnis of Iraq will be waiting for you with open arms," al-Sadr said. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates met his top commanders in Baghdad today to assess security.

Gates met General David Petraeus as he began his fourth visit to Iraq and is due to meet Iraqi leaders for talks in Baghdad later today.

He told press accompanying him that he will deliver the "same message that I have been delivering since December, that our troops are buying them time to pursue reconciliation, that frankly we are disappointed with the progress so far."

Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced today that one U.S. soldier was killed and three others were injured on June 15 when a roadside bomb exploded in southern Baghdad.

The military also said U.S. forces have found the identification cards of two missing soldiers in a suspected Al-Qaeda hideout in the northern Iraqi town of Samarra.

The troops were abducted along with a third U.S. soldier, whose body has since been found, after an attack on May 12 south of Baghdad. Al-Qaeda has said it killed all three.

(compiled from agency reports)

Muqtada Al-Sadr

Muqtada Al-Sadr

Al-Sadr supporters demonstrating against the U.S. presence in Iraq in October 2006 (epa)

A RADICAL CLERIC. Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is a key figure in Iraq. He heads the Imam Al-Mahdi Army militia and a political bloc that is prominent in parliament and the government. His ties to Iran have also provoked concerns in some quarters.


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