Iraqi authorities are working to secure the release of as many as 60 Shi'ite Muslims held hostage in a town south of Baghdad. Meanwhile, violent attacks across the country left at least 10 dead.
Iraq's newly formed government is dealing with a hostage crisis in Madaen, a town south of Baghdad, where Sunni insurgents are holding at least 60 Shi'ite Muslims hostage. The hostage takers have threatened to kill their captives unless all Shi'ites leave the area.
Madaen's population is a mix of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims and government officials said the militants were trying to stir up trouble among the residents. Iraq's Sunni Muslims, who make up 15 to 20 percent of the population, were afforded a special place under Saddam Hussein. Since his fall from power, many Sunnis now feel the new government threatens their way of life, and much of Iraq's insurgency has been centered in Sunni areas.
Elsewhere in Iraq, a series of explosions and insurgent attacks left at least 10 Iraqis dead.
In Baquba, a town north of Baghdad, a bomb exploded Saturday inside a restaurant frequented by Iraqi police. As many as seven people were killed, at least two of them were police officers. Another six Iraqis were injured in the explosion.
Meanwhile, gunmen killed three members of Iraq's security forces in a separate attack in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, while a car bomb in Mosul damaged a U.S. military convoy. No U.S. casualties were reported.