Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims, the country's largest electoral bloc, have announced a list of 228 candidates for January's elections as they seek to consolidate Shi'ite power after decades of Sunni rule.

The United Iraqi Alliance, as it is called, has the support of the country's highest Shi'ite religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

The coalition includes two major Shi'ite parties, the Islamic Dawa party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution, as well as independent Sunnis, and some Kurds and Turkmen.

Earlier this week, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was quoted in two European newspapers as saying the vote might be staggered over a two or three- week period to provide better security.  But Thursday his spokesman distanced Mr. Allawi from the comments, saying he had been misquoted.

Meanwhile, violence continued Thursday, with attacks killing three Iraqis and wounding seven in Baghdad and Mosul.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.