Iraqi parties are preparing for tough talks on forming a new coalition government, one day after results showed Shi'ite religious parties won the most seats, but not a majority, in last month's parliamentary vote.

Sunni Arab politicians meeting Saturday called for a national unity government.

Shi'ites secured 128 of the 275 seats in the December 15 poll. Sunni Arabs won 55 seats, and the Kurds won 53.

Also today, officials from a U.S. Muslim advocacy group, Council on American-Islamic Relations arrived in Baghdad and appealed for the release of American freelance journalist Jill Carroll.

Kidnappers had said they would kill Carroll unless all eight female detainees in American custody were released, but Friday's deadline passed with no word on her fate.

In other news, about 10 Iraqis have been killed in a spate of bombings and shootings across the country, including several policemen who died in a car bombing in Baquba, north of Baghdad.

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