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Car Bomb in Iraq Kills 2 - 2004-01-24


A car bomb has exploded in the Iraqi town of Samarra, killing two Iraqis and wounding at least 34 other people, including seven American soldiers.

Today's (Saturday's) blast took place not far from a police station in the town, located about 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, in an area of resistance to the U.S. - led coalition known as the Sunni Triangle.

The attack came hours after United Nations officials arrived in Iraq on a mission to help determine if it is safe for international staff to return to the country before power is transferred to Iraqis later this year.

In another development, Iraq's most influential Shi'ite Muslim cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has called off demonstrations by his followers against a U.S.-backed plan for an interim Iraqi government.

Speaking through a representative, the religious leader said the United Nations needs time to decide whether direct elections are feasible at this time.

U.S. officials have said there is too little time to organize elections before political power is handed over to Iraqis on June 30th.

However, a leader member of the U.S.-appointed Iraq Governing Council, Ahmed Chalabi says he believes the ballot could take place before the handover.

Information of this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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