Iraq: 38 killed in relentless violence

Gunmen attacked the disabled car of Iraq's top Sunni politician on Thursday, killing one bodyguard and wounding five after the Sunni leader sped away in another vehicle. Thirty-eight other people died in a new round of violence. After the attack, Adnan al-Dulaimi, leader of the largest Sunni parliamentary bloc, refused to assign blame and called for restraint to blunt the spiraling sectarian violence that has taken about 500 lives since Feb. 22, when a major Shi'ite shrine was bombed in Samarra. The military reported a US soldier was killed during combat in Iraq's insurgency-ridden Anbar province on Wednesday, raising to 2,296 the number US servicemembers who have died since the war began, according to an Associated Press count. Sheik Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie, head of the government's Sunni Endowment, the caretaker of Sunni mosques and religious shrines, took stock of the recent sectarian violence at a news conference Thursday, reporting that 45 Sunni preachers and mosque employees had been killed. He said 37 Sunni mosques were destroyed and 86 damaged by grenade, rocket or gun fire. US military officials put the figures much lower.