Thousands of Shiites rallied Friday in the southern city of Basra in a show of support for Iraq's new constitution. Meanwhile, the U.S. military said three American soldiers were killed in action in Baghdad and south of Baghdad.
The demonstration by at least 5,000 people in Basra, the country's second biggest city, was organized by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Shiite Dawa Party and was larger than rallies against the constitution staged by Sunnis elsewhere in the country in recent weeks. In Ramadi, a city west of Baghdad, several hundred Sunnis demonstrated against the constitution.
Also Friday, unidentified gunmen opened fire on Sunni worshippers at Friday prayers in two mosques south of Baghdad, killing two people and wounding four, police said.
Early Friday, two large blasts rocked central Baghdad. Police said one person was wounded in a blast at a hotel used mainly by foreign contractors. According to The AP, Police Maj. Abbas Mohammed said the bomb went off as a convoy of vehicles was entering the hotel compound. One of the drivers was injured and his vehicle was destroyed in the blast.
The U.S. army said Friday three troops had been killed in clashes in Baghdad and the town of Iskandariyah 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of the capital.
In western Iraq, Marine F/A-18 jets on Thursday destroyed a train station in the Syrian border town of Qaem after "numerous reliable sources" reported that al-Qaeda was storing weapons there, the US military said.