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Iraqi PM Orders US Troops to Lift Cordon Around Sadr City


Iraq's prime minister has ordered U.S. and Iraqi troops to lift a week-old cordon around Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district.

Nouri al-Maliki ordered the blockade to be fully dismantled today, but said checkpoints could be re-imposed for curfews or other operations.

The extra checkpoints were part of an operation to search for a missing American soldier, whom U.S. officials believe was kidnapped by Shi'ite militants.

Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a general strike today to protest the checkpoints, closing most shops, schools and government offices in Sadr City.

Meanwhile, a car bomb has struck a wedding party in Baghdad, killing 15 people, including four children. Earlier, a car bomb killed three civilians in the city center.

In Tikrit, police say gunmen kidnapped at least 30 people traveling on a main road north of Baghdad.

The U.S. military also says two more American soldiers were killed in Iraq Monday, raising the death toll of troops this month to 103.

October has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since January 2005, when 106 soldiers were killed.

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

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