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Iraq's Prime Minister Orders US Troops to Lift Cordon Around Sadr City

Iraq's prime minister has ordered U.S. and Iraqi troops to lift a week-old cordon around Baghdad's Shi'ite Sadr City district.

The extra checkpoints are part of an operation to search for a missing American soldier, whom U.S. officials believe was kidnapped by Shi'ite militants.

Shi'ite activists have denounced the blockade and likened it to a siege. Radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called for a general strike Tuesday to protest the checkpoints, closing most shops, schools and government offices in Sadr City.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ordered the blockade to be fully dismantled Tuesday, but he said checkpoints could be re-imposed for curfews or other operations.

Meanwhile, police in Tikrit say gunmen have kidnapped at least 30 people traveling on a main road north of Baghdad.

In Baghdad, a car bomb killed three civilians on Palestine Street in the city center.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says two more American soldiers were killed in Iraq Monday, raising the death toll of troops this month to 103.

A military statement says one U.S. soldier was killed by small arms fire during a battle in western Baghdad, while another soldier was killed by a roadside bomb south of the capital.

October has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq since January 2005, when 106 soldiers were killed.

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