updated 10/22/2007 5:48:15 AM ET 2007-10-22T09:48:15

Bombs struck Shiite targets in Baghdad on Monday, killing at least seven people and wounding two dozen, and an adviser to a prominent Sunni politician was gunned down in a western section of the capital, police said.

The blasts occurred a day after the U.S. military said its forces killed an estimated 49 militants during a dawn raid to capture an Iranian-linked militia chief in Baghdad’s Sadr City Shiite enclave, one of the highest tolls for a single operation since President Bush declared an end to active combat in 2003. The U.S. military said the militia chief was not captured or killed.

Iraqi police and hospital officials, who often overstate casualties, reported only 15 deaths including three children. Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said all the dead were civilians.

The U.S. military said it was not aware of any civilian casualties, and the discrepancy in the death tolls and accounts of what happened could not be reconciled. American commanders reported no U.S. casualties.

Al-Dabbagh said on CNN that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, had met with the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, to protest the action.

Stoking tensions
The violence highlighted the double frustrations threatening to stoke tensions among Iraq’s majority Islamic sect, with Shiites complaining that U.S. raids targeting militants have killed civilians even as the government has failed to stop the bombings. The numbers of such attacks have dropped since a U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown began eight months ago but suspected insurgents continue to find ways to stage the explosions.

The first explosion on Monday occurred about 8:45 a.m. when a bomb exploded in a square frequented by municipal workers from a nearby building in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Zafaraniyah in southeastern Baghdad. Within minutes, another blast struck police arriving at the scene to help with rescue efforts.

In all, three civilians were killed and 11 people wounded, including four policemen, in the blasts, police said.

A roadside bomb struck a minibus near Kahramanah Square in Karradah, another predominantly Shiite neighborhood in central Baghdad, killing four people and wounding 12, police said.

The blast tore through the minibus, which was ferrying passengers from Karradah to another square in Baghdad, and the door on the driver’s side was splattered with blood, according to AP Television News footage. Police said three nearby cars and several stores also were damaged.

Political adviser slain
Police also announced that gunmen killed Ahmed al-Mashhadani, an adviser to the leader of the largest Sunni Arab bloc in parliament, Adnan al-Dulaimi. The adviser was shot to death Thursday by gunmen in two cars as he left a bus station after dropping off relatives.

Police initially said he was killed Sunday, but al-Mashhadani’s party, the hardline Congress of the People of Iraq, issued a statement saying he was killed Thursday and his body was handed over by the hospital on Sunday.

Al-Dulaimi confirmed al-Mashhadani’s death in a telephone call but provided no details.

Dozens of al-Dulaimi’s supporters and relatives of al-Mashhadani held a funeral procession on Monday.

Sunday’s raid on the dangerous Shiite slum was aimed at capturing an alleged rogue militia chief, one of thousands of fighters who have broken with Muqtada al-Sadr’s mainstream Mahdi Army, although the military did not provide his name.

Associated Press photos showed the bodies of two toddlers, one with a gouged face, swaddled in blankets on a morgue floor. Their shirts were pulled up, exposing their abdomens, and a diaper showed above the waistband of one boy’s shorts. Relatives said the children were killed when helicopter gunfire hit their house as they slept.

One local resident said some of the casualties were people sleeping on roofs to seek relief from the heat and lack of electricity. The Iraqi officials said 52 were wounded in the raid on the sprawling district.

The Shiite cleric has ordered gunmen loyal to him to put down their arms. But thousands of followers dissatisfied with being taken out of the fight have formed a loose confederation armed and trained by Iran.

Bloody U.S. raids
The U.S. operation was the latest in a series that have produced significant death tolls, including civilians, as American forces increasingly take the fight to Sunni insurgents, al-Qaida militants and Shiite militiamen.

The intensity and frequency of American attacks and raids have grown since the arrival of the last of 30,000 additional soldiers on June 15.

The reinforcements were ordered into Iraq earlier this year by Bush and have inflicted a heavy toll on militants on both sides of Iraq’s sectarian divide. American commanders credit the troop buildup for a sharp drop in the number of attacks and deaths of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians, particularly in the past two months.

In the Sadr City raid, the U.S. military said forces killed “an estimated 49 criminals” — 33 in the initial firefight, six in helicopter airstrikes and 10 more after troops were hit by a roadside bomb and continued heavy fire.

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