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Car Bombing in Shi'ite Enclave Northeast of Baghdad Kills 32

16 May 2007

Iraqi police say a car bomb explosion in a Shi'ite enclave in the restive Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad, has killed at least 32 people and wounded dozens more.

Medical officials say many of the wounded had breathing problems, indicating that the blast also released toxic gas.

The attack took place Wednesday morning near a market in the town of Abu Saydah, about 40-kilometers from the provincial capital of Baquba - a Sunni insurgent stronghold.

To the south, in the city of Nasiriyah, at least nine people were killed in a firefight between Iraqi security forces and Shi'ite militiamen loyal to radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Security officials say the pre-dawn fighting broke out after police detained two militiamen suspected of involvement in attacks against Iraqi and U.S. troops.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said hundreds of people have been questioned and 11 detained as part of a search for three missing U.S. soldiers believed captured by al-Qaida-linked militants.

The military says coalition and Iraqi forces have been "working around the clock" to find the soldiers, who have been missing since Saturday, when their unit was attacked in southern Iraq.

Four other U.S. troops were killed in the ambush in a region south of Baghdad known as the "triangle of death."

U.S. military officer Major Kenny Mintz says troops are trying to isolate areas where the soldiers are thought to be.

An al-Qaida-led militant group - the Islamic State of Iraq - claimed responsibility for the attack, and has demanded the United States call of its search, if the soldiers are to remain safe.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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