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Iraqi PM Urges Politicians to Put Aside Differences, Stop Bloodshed

The streets of the Iraqi capital remained mostly quiet Sunday, as a traffic ban remained in effect for a third day, following bombing attacks that killed more than 200 Shi'ites on Thursday. Meanwhile, embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki appealed to his fellow politicians to stop the bloodshed. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Maliki appealed to the rival sectarian factions in his government to end the political disagreements he says are behind the bloodshed and crisis of recent days.

Mr. Maliki said he asked the leaders of Iraq's National Security Council to form a united front against the terrorists and anyone else who does not want peace and security.

The prime minister is facing not only a security crisis, but a deepening political one, as well. His largest bloc of Shi'ite supporters has threatened to withdraw from the government, if he goes to Jordan on Wednesday to meet with U.S. President Bush.

Meanwhile, outside Baghdad, there were reports of heavy clashes and some bomb attacks.

In the western province of al-Anbar, suspected Al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists attacked the Abu Soda tribe in the village of Sofia.

The U.S. military says al-Qaida burned homes and killed members of the tribe using small arms fire and mortars. The Americans conducted air strikes and fired artillery at the attackers.

Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, chief of al-Anbar's Salvation Council, and himself the target of an assassination attempt Sunday, spoke by telephone with al-Iraqiyah television about the attack.

He says, a band of terrorists attacked the tribe, and their fighters fought back, killing more than 50 of the terrorists and destroying more than 50 of their vehicles.

The U.S. military could not confirm those figures, but said both al-Qaida and Abu Soda suffered casualties, but the exact numbers were not yet known.

Battles were also reported in the volatile city of Baquba, north of Baghdad, where police fought Sunni Arab insurgents, killing 11 militants.

The U.S. military also reported killing four suspected terrorists in the city during an early morning raid. Eleven suspects were also detained, including one who was hiding in a house dressed as a woman, pretending to nurse a baby.

Two car bomb attacks were reported in Mahmoudiya and Haswa, both south of the capital. Police say several people were killed and wounded in those explosions.