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Attacks Across Iraq Kill At Least 53, Damage Oil Convoy

In the worst incident, a suicide bomber killed 32 mourners at a Shiite funeral in Muqdadiya, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. Attackers first fired mortars, scattering the 100 guests who had gathered to bury the nephew of a Shiite politician killed by gunmen the day before. A suicide bomber then detonated an explosive vest, killing and wounding dozens, Reuters reported.

“The Islamic Party condemns such ugly acts that are aimed at dividing the country,” a member of the largest Sunni Arab political party, Nassir al-Ani, said Wednesday. “The perpetrators want to cause divisions and hinder the political process in Iraq, but they will fail and we will establish a national unity government.”

Attacks on Shiite Muslims in Iraq have escalated since elections shifted political power from the minority Sunni population, once headed by Saddam Hussein, to Shiites, the largest ethnic group in Iraq. Security officials blame the attacks on insurgent Sunni sympathizers, such as al-Qaida in Iraq, the militant group headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Wednesday’s attack came as Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians, members of Iraq’s three main political parties, continued talks aimed at establishing a coalition government. Sunni leaders have charged that officials rigged the December elections in favor of Shiites.

Also Wednesday, insurgents carrying machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a convoy of oil tanker trucks en route from Iraq’s largest refinery in Beiji. The attack destroyed at least three of the tankers and damaged 15 others, police Lt. Abdul Zahra Qassim told the Associated Press.

Drivers in the convoy had only recently restarted transporting fuel from the refinery because of security concerns. There were no reports of driver casualties.

Attacks elsewhere in Iraq left several people dead including a policeman, a professor and an oil ministry employee and his son.

In the southern Baghdad district of Dora, a car bomb exploded near an outdoor market damaging nearby shops, killing seven people and wounding 15.

In northern Baghdad three civilians and one policeman died in a car bomb attack. The attack wounded 13 others. Also in the capital, gunmen killed three people, including the ministry official and his son, the AP reported.

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, gunmen killed a civilian in an attack on the political offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Two separate roadside bombs, one in Kirkuk targeting U.S. soldiers and one in Baqouba, killed four civilians, reported the AP.

A policeman in Aziziyah and a professor in the restive Sunni city of Ramadi were also killed by gunmen.

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