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Pentagon: Attacks in Iraq Increase to Record Levels


The U.S. Defense Department says insurgent and sectarian attacks in Iraq have soared to record highs over the last three months, to about 1,000 incidents each week.

A Pentagon report released Monday says the Mahdi Army of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has surpassed al-Qaida as the biggest threat to civilians.

The report says the Iraqi government is trying, but failing, to push for national unity between feuding factions, and that Iraqi politicians are often unwilling or unable to compromise.

In Iraq Tuesday, gunmen stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in the second major bank heist in Baghdad this month. The government also announced that it had executed 13 prisoners convicted of murder and other offenses.

In Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said a Marine died Monday from wounds sustained in combat.

In other news, the Estonian parliament extended its country's military mission in Iraq through 2007. Estonia currently has 40 troops in Iraq. In Warsaw, the Polish government also asked for a 12-month extension to Poland's 900-strong military mission in Iraq.

Separately, an influential international research institute says Iraq faces complete disintegration into a failed state.

The International Crisis Group says the Iraqi government and security forces share some responsibility for the current violence. It calls on the United States to adopt a new strategy for the Middle East by engaging with Syria and Iran, and by working to revitalize the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

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

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