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Al-Zarqawi Urges Sunnis to Reject Calls to End Sectarianism


The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq is urging fellow Sunnis to reject calls for reconciliation with Shi'ites in an audiotape message posted on the Internet.

In the four-hour message, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called Shi'ites "snakes" and Shi'ite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani an atheist. He also told Sunnis to ignore calls to end sectarianism.

The authenticity of the tape has not been confirmed. Zarqawi's last Internet message was posted in April.

In other developments, Iraqi police say at least seven people have been killed and 61 wounded in separate bomb explosions in Baghdad.

Police say five people died and 57 were wounded Friday in back-to-back explosions in one of the capital's historic markets.

Shortly afterward, a roadside bomb exploded in an eastern neighborhood, killing two people and wounding at least four others.

In the southern city of Basra, Iraqi security forces have set up roadblocks to enforce a month-long state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

He called for the state of emergency Wednesday, vowing to crack down with an "iron fist" on gangs behind rampant violence in Basra, the center of the country's oil trade.

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

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