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Bombs Explode in Baghdad as Rival Clerics Reach Peace Deal


Iraqi officials say three bombs exploded in Baghdad, killing nine people and wounding twelve others. One bomb, aimed at a U.S. military patrol, killed other people nearby. Explosions also hit an Iraqi patrol and a provincial building in the city. As VOA's Jim Randle reports, one effort to quell the continuing violence showed some progress.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has welcomed a deal between two Shi'ite leaders to stop fighting between their supporters that has been going on for months.

Saturday's agreement was signed by radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and Abdul Haziz al-Hakim - the head of Iraq's largest Shi'ite political party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.

Supporters of Sadr and Hakim have been struggling for power in southern Iraq while the British forces that have been controlling the area cut their numbers and redeploy.

More than 50 people died in fighting between the Shi'ite groups in Karbala during August.

Meanwhile, a series of investigations continue into the incident a few weeks ago in which employees of the Blackwater security contractor killed at least 11 Iraqis.

One of those investigations, a joint U.S.-Iraqi commission reviewing the security firms operations met for the first time. The joint commission, chaired by Iraq's defense minister and the U.S. embassy's number two diplomat plans to issue recommendations to Baghdad and Washington on improving security procedures.

Blackwater's conduct has affected many Iraqis, including Judge Moneer Haddad who says the security company's heavily armed employees threatened him, his wife and children with weapons on a Baghdad street.

Judge Haddad says he was driving in the highly-protected Green Zone that is home to the U.S. Embassy and many official government operations. He had to pull over as a Blackwater vehicle pulled past. He says Blackwater employees aimed weapons at his family.

Judge Haddad, who presided over Saddam Hussein's hanging, said Blackwater employees do not show the same respect for Iraqi lives shown by American troops. He is grateful for the U.S. forces that toppled Saddam, but angry about the conduct of these contractors. He spoke in a VOA interview in the northern city of Irbil.

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