Iraq's new parliament met for the first time Thursday with parties still deadlocked over the next government, vehicles banned from Baghdad's streets to prevent car bombings and the country under the shadow of a feared civil war.
A pianist played as representatives of the countries main ethnic and religious blocs - many in traditional Arab and Kurdish dress - filed into a convention center behind the concrete blast walls of the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to foreign embassies, as well as the Iraqi government. The session opened half an hour late with a reading from the Koran.
Earlier, police reported the discovery of 27 more bodies discarded in various parts of the Baghdad overnight, part of a wave of sectarian killing that has swept the capital and other cities since bombers destroyed an important Shiite shrine last month.
Continuing divisions among lawmakers suggested the opening session of the legislature, within days of the anniversary of the US-led invasion three years ago, would do little more than swear in members elected in landmark elections three months earlier.