A car bomb exploded in a Shiite holy city and 13 members of one Shiite family were gunned down northeast of the capital Saturday despite the heightened security aimed at curbing sectarian violence after the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine. Nearly 50 people were reported killed in all.
Also, another Sunni mosque was attacked in Baghdad on Saturday after two rockets were fired the previous night at a Shiite mosque in Tuz Khormato, north of the capital. Shooting also broke out near the home of a prominent Sunni cleric as the funeral procession for an Al-Arabiya TV correspondent slain in sectarian violence was passing by. Police believed the procession was the target.
An extraordinary daylight curfew was in effect for the second day running in Baghdad and three surrounding provinces. It was lifted at 4 p.m. in most areas, but the government announced a 24-hour ban on vehicular movements in Baghdad and its suburbs starting at 6 a.m. Sunday.
Despite the extra measures, the stretched security forces could not be everywhere to contain attacks that have killed more than 190 people since Wednesday's shrine bombing and pushed Iraq to the brink of civil war.
Political and religious leaders were anxious to contain the violence unleashed by extremists on both sides, which have frozen efforts to form a new government that Washington considers essential if it is to reduce U.S. troop levels this year.
The main Sunni Arab political bloc said Saturday it ¿will not hesitate to reconsider¿ its decision to pull out of coalition talks if Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, follows through on promises to ease the crisis.
In a statement Friday, al-Jaafari pledged to rebuild the Shiite shrine that was wrecked in Samarra as well as Sunni mosques damaged in reprisal attacks. He also launched an investigation to establish responsibility for the Samarra bombing ¿and what followed.¿
In its statement, the Sunni front said the prime minister's statement included ¿positive signs.¿
¿Although we appreciate the stance of the government, it is important that such decisions be put into force despite the deterioration of the security situation,¿ the Sunni statement said.
U.S. officials remain hopeful the Sunnis will return to the discussions, but the crisis may delay forming the government, which had been expected by mid-May.
In other developments:
A suspect arrested after the blast told police the intended targets were the city's holy shrines of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and his half brother Imam Abbas, Karbala Gov. Aqeel al-Khazali told The Associated Press.
But the suspect could not penetrate the network of checkpoints set up before this month's massive Ashoura religious festival, according to the governor.
The assailant instead parked the vehicle on a street in the north of the city, drawing the attention of local residents. When a policeman opened the trunk to investigate, the car exploded, a local officer said. Al-Khazali said the suspect was captured with a detonator still on him.
When the mourners were returning later from the cemetery, a car bomb ripped through an Iraqi military patrol that was escorting the mourners. At least two soldiers and one police commando were killed in the mayhem, police and army officials said. Six people, including civilians, were injured.
In a bid to contain the violence, the prime minister announced additional security measures Friday, including a ban on vehicles entering or leaving Baghdad, more patrols in tense neighborhoods, and a ban on carrying unauthorized weapons.
The government also extended the daytime curfew for a second day in Baghdad and the flashpoint provinces of Babil, Diyala and Salaheddin, where the shrine bombing took place. And the U.S. military said it would carry out additional security patrols for another 48 hours.
The curfew prevented many from reaching mosques Friday, but people were allowed to walk to neighborhood services, many of which were guarded by Iraqi police and soldiers. Preachers at several leading mosques urged their followers to maintain calm for the sake of the nation, and a number of demonstrations called for Shiite-Sunni unity.