Iraqi leaders are looking ahead to forming a new National Assembly, following official announcement of results of last month's national elections.

The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shi'ite Muslim groups, won the biggest share of the votes, falling just short of an outright majority.

Iraq's election commission says a Kurdish coalition led by Jalal Talabani finished second, with 25 percent. The prime minister of Iraq's interim government, Iyad Allawi, and his allies ranked third, with 14 percent.

Authorities in Baghdad say the results announced Sunday will be certified final if they are not challenged within three days.

Well over 8 million Iraqis took part in last month's election, but relatively few ballots were cast by members of the Sunni Muslim minority that dominated the country during the Saddam Hussein regime.

President Bush says the election moved Iraq forward on the path to democracy.

In other developments, gunmen shot and killed two Iraqi army officers and a soldier Sunday during an ambush in northwest Baghdad. Three American troops died when their vehicle rolled into a canal near Balad. Another American died during an attack on a military base near Samarra.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.