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Attacks Kill 15 in Baghdad, Including Senior Iraqi Official

28 January 2007

Violence continued in Iraq Sunday. Attacks in Baghdad killed at least 15 people. Meanwhile, thousands of Iraqi police and soldiers are working to prevent attacks on Shi'ite pilgrims in the city of Karbala for a major religious observance. VOA's Jim Randle reports from Baghdad.

Mortar shells hit a girls' secondary school late Sunday morning in a mostly Sunni area of western Baghdad.

Witnesses and police said several girls died and more than 20 were hurt.

Several projectiles exploded in the school's courtyard, shattering windows in the classrooms and spraying pupils with broken glass.

Elsewhere, police say gunmen killed the director-general of Iraq's Industry Ministry Adel Abdul-Mehsun al-Lami, his daughter, driver and bodyguard.

Bomb attacks elsewhere in the city also claimed lives, including a taxi driver.

A witness said the taxi exploded soon after some passengers got out.

Also Sunday, the U.S. military reported that Coalition Forces captured 21 suspected terrorists in several locations around the country. These included a senior al-Qaida in Iraq courier and a person accused of leading a group of bomb-makers.

Witnesses in the holy city of Najaf, south of Baghdad, say insurgents have shot down a U.S. helicopter there. The U.S. military has not commented.

In the city of Karbala, thousands of Iraqi soldiers and police are deployed to protect Shi'ite pilgrims taking part in Ashura, when Shi'ite Muslims mourn the Seventh Century death of Hussein, grandson of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.

People dressed in black in a sign of mourning.

Some slapped chains across their backs until their clothes were soaked with blood - a show of grief over Hussein's death in battle.

Ashura is one of the most important religious observances for Shi'ites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's population.

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