20 Dead in Iraq Unrest
26 February 2006
Insurgents in Iraq killed at least 20 people Sunday in mortar attacks, bombings and shootings, despite an appeal from leaders to end five days of sectarian bloodshed.
At least 15 of the deaths occurred when mortar rounds struck a Shi'ite area in Baghdad. Elsewhere in the city, the U.S. military says two U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb, and a third by gunfire. In Baquba, gunmen killed two youths playing soccer.
Meanwhile, the White House expressed hope Sunday that Sunnis and Shi'ites will unite to blunt the surge in violence triggered by last week's bombing of a Shi'ite shrine in Samarra. More than 200 people have been killed in reprisal attacks since then.
National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley noted appeals from Shi'ite and Sunni leaders for calm. He also praised statements from Iraq's various communities that progress is needed toward a unified government.
Late Saturday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari held emergency talks with Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and said Iraq is, in his words, "far away from civil war." He also said the government will repair all religious sites damaged since the bombing that demolished the dome of the Askariya shrine.
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