Baghdad, Iraq — A series of roadside bombs and explosions damaged a Shiite shrine east of the volatile city of Baqouba late Saturday - the second time this year that a site sacred to Iraq's Shiite majority has been targeted.
In Baghdad, gunmen killed the son of Iraq's top judge as the country's prime minister-designate struggled to form a national unity government that could eventually open the way to stability.
The bombing at the Imam Abdullah Ali al-Hadi shrine, which caused no injuries, could have significant repercussions - particularly in the Baqouba area, a mixed Sunni Arab-Shiite region where sectarian tensions are running high.
On Feb. 22, bombs heavily damaged the Golden Dome in Samarra, which holds the tomb of Imam Abdullah's father.
Iraqi lawmakers have been struggling for months to set up a new national unity government, which they hope will calm sectarian and ethnic tensions and sap steam from the insurgency. But negotiations have been progressing at a glacial pace, leading some lawmakers to complain that the process was being hampered by self-interest and sectarianism.
Attacks outside Baghdad killed five Iraqis and a U.S. soldier, part of the undercurrent of daily violence marring the slow-moving political process.
Frustrated with such violence in the south, the governor of oil-rich Basra, Mohammed al-Waeli, asked his provincial council to fire the regional police chief and the defense ministry to sack an Iraqi army general.
In one success, Kurdish security forces in the north said they arrested five men who had escaped on May 9 from the U.S. military Fort Suse Theater internment facility near Sulaimaniyah, 160 miles northeast of Baghdad.
With a May 22 constitutional deadline to form the new Cabinet rapidly approaching, Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki urged an important Shiite party to rejoin talks on distributing ministry posts.