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Iraqi PM Calls for National Unity Following Deadly Bombings

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has called for national unity, following a spate of deadly bombings just days before U.S. forces are set to withdraw from Iraqi cities.

Mr. Maliki said political reconciliation between Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim groups is necessary to ensure stability in the country.

The Iraqi prime minister also reiterated Iraqi forces were fully capable of taking over security responsibilities when U.S. forces pull out of urban areas by June 30.

The comments echo that of U.S. President Barack Obama who said Friday the overall security situation in Iraq has improved, despite recent violence.

Friday, at least 16 people were killed in two separate attacks in Baghdad. Earlier this week, at least 76 people were killed in an explosion at a market in the capital's mostly Shi'ite district of Sadr City. A truck bombing last Saturday near Kirkuk killed nearly 70 people.

Separately, the U.S. military released a key aide to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr late Friday.

Abdul-Hadi al-Daraji was arrested in January 2007 at a mosque in Baghdad's eastern Shiite district of Baladiyat.

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