Leading Iraqi political groups are calling on the interim government to delay national elections scheduled for January 30, because of ongoing violence in the country.
At least 15 mostly Sunni and Kurdish political groups said Friday the elections should be delayed by up to six months. They issued their call after a meeting at the Baghdad home of influential Sunni politician Adnan Pachachi, who also has close ties to Washington.
Iraq's Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and the Bush administration have said continuing violence will not delay the vote.
Meanwhile, a British official said four employees of a private British security firm killed Thursday in Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone" were Gurkhas, the renowned Nepalese soldiers.
Also Friday, the U.S. military said Marines have cleared weapons from more than half the houses in the restive city of Fallujah, after mounting an offensive to crush rebels there.
On Thursday, a large cache of weapons and an apparent chemical weapons laboratory were discovered in Fallujah.
Some information for this story provided by AP and Reuters.