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Casualties Rise as Bombings Continue in Iraq

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

US military officials say at least eight American soldiers were killed in the past 24 hours in Iraq. Besides the US fatalities, Iraqi police say at least two Iraqis were killed in another car bombing. The ongoing violence has dimmed hopes for an easing of tensions as Iraq's government struggles to take the reins of power. From Baghdad, NPR's Peter Kenyon reports.

PETER KENYON reporting:

A US Army spokesman says a military convoy was hit by a car bomb in central Baghdad today, killing three soldiers. US and Iraqi forces arrived to secure the scene of the blast, and, about 30 minutes later, another American soldier in the same area was killed in a drive-by shooting. Separately, the military confirmed that four soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb attack yesterday in Haswa, some 30 miles outside Baghdad. Iraqi police say a car in a Baghdad street that had aroused suspicion from bystanders blew up near a police convoy today. Iraqi civilians, as is often the case, suffered most of the casualties.

The scene is grimly familiar to Iraqis who have seen more than 550 lives lost in less than a month as the new Iraqi government struggles to begin the process of drafting a Constitution. After two days of hopeful signs over the weekend with Sunni and Shiite religious leaders calling for cooperation, yesterday saw more killings that appeared to have sectarian overtones. A Shiite community leader in Tall'Afar in northern Iraq was targeted for the second time in recent days, and, at a Shiite mosque south of Baghdad, a suicide car bomber struck shortly before evening prayers. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.