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UN Envoy Says Iraq Slipping into Sectarianism


A top U.N. envoy says Iraq is sliding into what he calls the "abyss of sectarianism" and he is urging Iraqi leaders to do more to stop the violence. Across Iraq Tuesday a series of car bombs, kidnappings, and shootings took at least eight lives. Explosions reverberated through Baghdad as the dead from Monday's devastating car bombings were being buried. VOA's Jim Randle has this report from the Iraqi capital.

At mid-morning, one bomb placed under a car in a mostly Shi'ite part of downtown Baghdad killed several people and wounded a number of others.

One woman stood in the rubble, wailing.

She asks, why insurgents plant bombs near houses every day? What did we ever do wrong? She calls on God to curse the people who wreak such violence.

Elsewhere in Baghdad, a roadside bomb and a car bomb brought more deaths and injuries. A gunfight between insurgents and police in the northern city of Mosul killed several Iraqi policemen and wounded several others. Three U.S. soldiers were killed Tuesday.

The U.N. Special Representative for Iraq, Ashraf Qazi, says the country appears to be sliding into what he called "the abyss of sectarianism." In a statement issued earlier in the day, he urged government and religious leaders to stop the violence and save the country.

As the statement was released, funerals were underway for victims of Monday's double car bombing that killed at least 88 people.

Hundreds of people attended the funerals.

The bombs are the latest in a stepped-up campaign of insurgent violence in advance of President Bush's recently announced U.S.-Iraqi security operation.

Early in the day, the U.S. military issued a statement saying it had killed 16 insurgents and detained 10 other suspected insurgents during security operations in Baghdad and the city Haditha.

The U.S. military says Iraqi and American forces have detained more than 600 people in connection with a militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sixteen of those arrested are said to be militia leaders.

These suspects were captured in dozens of operations during the past six weeks.

Officials say they have also detained at least 33 Sunni insurgent leaders accused of committing or aiding violent acts. The military says the suspects are awaiting prosecution by Iraqi authorities.

Amid the latest violence, another 17 people were kidnapped. The U.N. refugee agency says armed men dressed in Iraqi police uniforms abducted the victims, all Palestinians from their Baghdad apartment.

There are about 15,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq and are the target of a growing number of attacks.

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