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Female Suicide Bomber Kills More Than 30 Near Shi'ite Shrine in Karbala 


Iraqi police say a female suicide bomber has killed more than 30 people and wounded up to 50 near a Shi'ite shrine in Karbala, south of Baghdad.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday's attack close to the Imam Hussein shrine - considered one of the holiest sites in Shi'ite Islam.

Separately, the U.S. military says two U.S. soldiers were killed Monday as they were clearing a route north of Baghdad. Several explosions, including a car bombing earlier in the day, were also reported in Baghdad.

None of the attacks was said to threaten visiting Vice President Dick Cheney, who made an unannounced visit to Baghdad just before the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Mr. Cheney said he sees "phenomenal changes" in Iraqi security and political developments since his last visit ten months ago.

Cheney's motorcade traveled through Baghdad to various stops, including several outside the heavily-secured Green Zone, as part of his meetings with U.S. and Iraqi officials.

During the course of the day, Cheney met Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, his two deputies, leading Shi'ite politician Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Cheney also met with the top U.S. commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker.

Mr. Maliki said the frequency of the vice-president's visits are "very important." Cheney's stop in Iraq is part of a Middle East tour including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Turkey.

U.S. senator and expected Republican Party presidential candidate John McCain is also in Iraq on what he says is a fact-finding visit.

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