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Iraq Transition

Iraq's constitution-writing hits impasse

Sunni Arab delegation wants assurances before rejoining


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Sunni Arab delegation of Iraq's constitution-writing committee wants a number of assurances before it returns to the painstaking work of completing a draft document by an August 15 deadline, a Western official told CNN.

Meanwhile, police in Baghdad said insurgents launched more attacks Friday, killing eight people, including six police officers.

The three separate morning attacks were carried out within a two-hour timeframe in the neighborhoods of Baladiyat, Mashtel and near Waiziriya.

The now 14-person Sunni delegation suspended its participation in the constitution draft process after a 15th committee member, Mijbil Ali Hussein al-Sheikh Issa, was shot and killed in Baghdad earlier this week. Two other people, including a consultant to the committee, were also killed.

The delegation wants better security and an international probe into the deaths, said the Western official, who told reporters the Sunnis have expressed doubts about the credibility of an Interior Ministry probe.

He added that the Sunnis will return to work, once those requirements are met.

In addition, Sunni Arabs want assurances that a draft not be disseminated until work is completed and that regional geographic divisions not be written into the document, the official said.

The original 55-member constitution committee enlarged to accommodate the 15 Sunni Arabs, who have been marginalized in the new Shiite Arab- and Kurdish-dominated government. The Iraqi government, realizing that many Sunni Arabs were supportive of the insurgency, fostered Sunni Arab inclusion to win hearts and minds.

An American official at the briefing said the United States has stressed to Iraqis the importance of finishing the draft on time. Once a draft is completed and approved by the transitional National Assembly, voters will have a chance to approve it in a referendum scheduled by October 15.

Among the issues being hammered out are federalism, women's rights and the role of Islam. Officials want public comment on the document and have set up an e-mail address and boxes in public buildings for people to send views and ask questions.

Other developments:

  • A U.S. Marine died when an improvised device went off Thursday near Zaidon in Anbar province, the U.S. Marine Corps said. The Marine was assigned to Regimental Combat Team-8, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), the Marines said. The death brings the number of U.S. troops killed in the war to 1,771.
  • A Marine commander on Friday said "progress" has been made in rebuilding the battered city of Falluja, where U.S. and Iraqi forces in November ousted the strong insurgent presence during a massive operation. Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Johnson said that people have returned to their homes, water and electrical service are being restored, commerce is starting, schools are opening and reconstruction is proceeding.
  • Authorities are also trying to locate two Algerian envoys who were abducted Thursday. Their kidnappings follow those of Bahrain and Pakistani diplomats as well as of Egypt's top diplomat, who was later killed.
  • Three Sunni brothers who were also kidnapped Thursday were found dead in eastern Baghdad Friday, their bodies mutilated, stabbed and shot execution-style, police said. One was a police officer, the second the imam for a Sunni mosque in Rashdiya, the third an employee for Iraq's ministry.
  • CNN's Kevin Flower, Cal Perry and Enes Dulami contributed to this report.

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