updated 10/26/2007 6:55:15 PM ET 2007-10-26T22:55:15

A suicide bomber blew himself up near the headquarters of a nationalistic Sunni insurgent group that has turned against al-Qaida in Iraq north of Baghdad, killing a woman on her way to the market and wounding four other people, police said.

A spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, called on the Iraqi government to stop violence he said was increasingly plaguing southern Iraq and warned the inaction could further alienate Iraqis from the political process.

Sheik Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai said 200 people were killed in the past three months in the city of Basra alone, in addition to kidnappings, and he accused the government of failing to hold the attackers accountable or to stop oil smuggling operations.

Al-Karbalai’s figures could not be independently verified, but his complaint was a sign of growing frustration over rampant clashes and violence in the mainly Shiite south largely blamed on rival militia factions.

He urged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other political leaders “to activate the security operation and to hold lawbreakers accountable.”

“It is the right of the citizen to enjoy stability and security. If these aspirations are not met, who will guarantee that the citizens will continue supporting the political process,” al-Karbalai said.

Al-Sadr renews truce appeal
In another sign of internal Shiite unrest, an aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr warned during his Friday sermon that a freeze on militia activities could be lifted if U.S. and Iraqi forces continue with detention campaigns against the movement.

Sheik Assad al-Nasseri also complained that an agreement to end violence between followers of al-Sadr and rival Shiite politician Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim had failed to yield tangible results.

“The reconciliation between the Sadrist movement and other sides did not have any noticeable effect except in some press statements,” al-Nasseri said during Friday prayers in the holy city of Kufa.

Al-Sadr earlier this week renewed his appeal to his followers to uphold the six-month cease-fire announced in August and threatened to expel those who don’t.

His office in the holy city of Najaf said the statement was issued in response to questions from supporters about whether the order to stand down still applied, even as U.S. forces appear to have escalated their campaign against what the military calls Iranian-backed breakaway militia factions, and clashes between Shiite groups are on the rise in parts of the mainly Shiite south.

Al-Nasseri acknowledged the raids had caused anger among the ranks and warned the freeze could be lifted.

“It was one decision which could end in one minute and then they will be sorry,” he told worshippers in the Kufa mosque.

He blamed the security forces for killing civilians during the operations, singling out recent crackdowns against rival militia fighters in Diwaniyah and the holy city of Karbala.

“The detention campaigns against al-Sadr’s people were not conducted according to issued arrest warrants as they claim,” he said. “This issue went so far as to assault women and children in front of husbands, brothers and fathers. These are shameful things. ... They are more unjust to us than the Saddamists.”

Details of bombing
The suicide attacker in Muqdadiyah, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, detonated his explosives belt after he was unable to get through the main gate of the headquarters of the 1920s Revolution Brigades.

The brigades is a loose network of Saddam Hussein loyalists that recently broke with al-Qaida and has seen several members join forces with the U.S. against the terror network as part of a power struggle in the volatile Diyala province.

Elsewhere in Diyala, a bomb exploded near a village south of Buhriz, killing a farmer, and two civilians were killed in a mortar attack near Muqdadiyah, police said.

A roadside bomb also struck a police patrol in the Daghara area, about 12 miles north of the mainly Shiite city of Diwaniyah, killing two officers and wounding three others who were taken to the hospital, a police official said.

Diwaniyah, 80 miles south of Baghdad, has seen fierce clashes between Shiite factions in recent months and violence also has targeted U.S.-led and Iraq security forces.

October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in Iraqi civilian deaths, with American commanders crediting increasing local Iraqi opposition to Sunni and Shiite extremists.

The U.S. military reported that an American soldier was killed and four were wounded Thursday in a roadside bombing in southern Baghdad.

The unit was hit with an explosively formed penetrator, known as an EFP. The United States claims Iran supplies Shiite militants with the weapon, which fires an armor-piercing, fist-sized copper slug upon explosion.

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