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Friday February 24, 2006
Sectarian violence claimed more than 130 lives across Iraq
yesterday despite calls for calm from leaders fearful of
all-out civil war.

A day after a suspected al-Qa'eda bomb destroyed a major
Shia shrine, leave was cancelled for the police and army.
Minority Sunni political leaders pulled out of US-backed
talks on forming a national unity government, accusing the
ruling Shias of fomenting dozens of attacks on Sunni

The attacks showed a precision and brutality exceptional
even in Iraq. At a makeshift checkpoint outside Baghdad,
gunmen dragged drivers from their cars to be shot. In all, 47
bodies - all Shias who had been demonstrating against
Wednesday's bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarrah -
were found in a ditch near the village of Nahrawan.

In the capital, more than 80 bullet-ridden corpses were
taken to the mortuary in the 24 hours after two explosions
destroyed the gold-plated dome of the 1,200-year-old
mosque. Most were Sunnis.

Seven more people died in fighting between Shia militiamen
and Sunni gunmen in Mahmoudiyah, south of the capital,
while in Baquba a bomb killed at least 16, though its
intended target may have been an Iraqi army patrol.
Spectre of civil war in Iraq grows
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