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Shi'ite Leader Visits Sunni Stronghold


A senior member of Iraq's largest Shi'ite party met with Sunni tribal sheikhs on Sunday, in a rare visit to the Sunni stronghold of Anbar province.

Shi'ite Ammar al-Hakim held talks with Sunni coalition leader Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha and other sheikhs. Observers say the visit demonstrated a desire to promote unity and overcome sectarian divisions.

Hakim is preparing to take over leadership of the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council from his father, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim. The elder Hakim was diagnosed with cancer in May.

Also Sunday, Iraqi authorities said a car bomb exploded next to a minibus carrying Shi'ite worshippers in Baghdad, killing nine of them and wounding 13 others.

Police say women and children were among the victims and that the minibus was on its way to a shrine in northern Baghdad.

Elsewhere in the capital, an Iraqi journalist was shot dead while on assignment for The Washington Post newspaper.

Also in Baghdad Sunday, the United States says one of its soldiers was killed in a roadside bomb blast.

The U.S. military in Iraq also says Iraqi Army soldiers detained five suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists near the northern town of Taji on Friday and Saturday.

In a separate statement on Sunday, the military said Iraqi police captured a man who detonated an explosive device in the northern town of Tuz on Friday. The military says one civilian was killed and 10 children were wounded in that attack.

In other news, Pope Benedict XVI Sunday called for the release of two Catholic priests who were kidnapped Saturday in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

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