Officials say a fierce battle between Iraqi troops and Shi'ite militiamen in the south of the country has left at least 34 people dead.
The fighting began late Sunday in the Shi'ite-majority city of Diwaniyah. Authorities say Iraqi security forces carried out raids there aimed at collecting illegal weapons from militiamen of the Mahdi Army.
Hospital officials say 25 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the fighting, along with seven civilians and at least two Shi'ite militiamen.
The Mahdi Army fighters are loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads a faction of the Iraqi government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has vowed to disband militias as part of his national reconciliation plan.
Earlier today , a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, killing 16 people and wounding more than 40.