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Iraq Imposes Daytime Curfew to Stem Sectarian Violence


Iraq's government has ordered a tough daytime curfew to stem sectarian violence that has killed more than 130 people since the bombing of a Shi'ite shrine.

Iraqi state television announced the unusual restriction, ordering people off the streets today - Friday in the capital Baghdad and the nearby flashpoint provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salaheddin, where Wednesday's bombing took place.

The move appeared aimed at preventing trouble in connection with Friday prayer services.

Meanwhile, Iraq's most influential Shi'ite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, called Friday for unity between Shi'ites and Sunnis. The head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq blamed Saddam Hussein loyalists and followers of al-Qaida in Iraq for the country's sectarian violence.

Separately, Iraqi military officials say gunmen stormed a house early Friday in the town of Latifiyah, 30 kilometers south of Baghdad, killing at least three Shi'ites.

And the U.S. military says coalition forces conducted a raid in northern Baghdad, killing the al-Qaida military emir in the area. The military says Abu Asma was an explosives expert involved with improvised explosive devices.

Dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked, and some Sunni clerics kidnapped and killed since the bombing of the Shi'ite Askariya shrine in Samarra.

Police outside Baghdad found the remains of 47 people who had been shot to death, while dozens of other bodies were found in Baghdad and elsewhere.

The Askariya shrine draws pilgrims from around the world. It contains the tombs of the 10th and 11th Shi'ite imams, Ali al-Hadi and his son, Hassan al-Askari.

It was built at the site where the 12th Shi'ite imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, disappeared. Known as the "hidden iman," he is the son and grandson of the two imams buried at Askariya.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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