In a firefight in a Sunni neighborhood of central Baghdad, Iraqi army forces killed 30 gunmen and arrested eight, including five Sudanese. Hours before the firefight was reported, police said they had found 27 bodies in same area.
Also in the capital and nationwide Saturday, police said at least 17 other people were reported killed dead as a result of sectarian violence. In one incident, eight members of a senior Shiite police official's family were murdered while he was away from home at work.
Earlier, the chief of the Baghdad police, Major General Ali Yasser, survived a car bomb attack on his motorcade in the center of the Iraqi capital on Saturday, sources at police headquarters told Reuters. The blast in a parked car in the commercial Karrada district killed one bystander and injured three others, as well as wounding three policemen.
Meanwhile, US President George W. Bush is launching on a sweeping overhaul of the US diplomatic and military leadership in Iraq as he puts the final touches on a fresh strategy.
Bush is set to unveil his new plan for Iraq in a speech as early as Wednesday, the AP reported. The reshuffle came Friday as the president moved to replace the head of the US Central Command that oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the commander of the US-led forces in Iraq and pushed ahead with plans to make the US ambassador there, Zalmay Khalilzad, the new US envoy to the United Nations.
Replacing Khalilzad in Baghdad, officials said, would be Ryan Crocker, 57, the American ambassador to Pakistan since November 2004.
Admiral William Fallon, 62, currently head of US forces in the Pacific, would replace retiring General John Abizaid at the Central Command, which manages the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In Iraq, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, 54, would replace General George Casey as the man in charge of all American and coalition forces, according to White House-endorsed recommendations from Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The White House dismissed suggestions that Bush was unhappy with the performance of the generals, and pointed out that Casey, 58, would be promoted to Army chief of staff.