MOSUL, Iraq – Fears that insurgents would attack Shiite mourners forced families and officials Friday to cancel a massive procession for 50 people, mostly Shiite Muslims (search), who were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral the day before.
In Baghdad (search), the main Shiite and Kurdish coalitions agreed on a deal to divvy up the country's top three government posts, but differences remain over the future deployment of non-Kurdish Iraqi army units in Kurdistan (search).
As politicians put the finishing strokes on the written agreement that will form a coalition government and convene Iraq's first democratically elected parliament in modern history, insurgents blew up an oil pipeline north of Baghdad in an attack targeting the country's fragile economic infrastructure.
In Mosul, family members held individual wakes and funeral services after they agreed with community and religious leaders not to hold a joint funeral procession.
Most relatives were motivated by "fear of another attack like this one," said Hamid Zain al-Ali, a member of the Al-Sadr Movement of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militants rose up against U.S. troops several times in 2004.
Al-Ali said one mortar round exploded Friday near the site where a suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday, and added that the Al-Sadr movement provided armed guards for each of the funerals.
Sunni-led insurgents have in the past repeatedly targeted Shiite funeral processions and ceremonies, part of an apparent campaign to spark a sectarian war in Iraq. Last month, suicide bombers attacked a number of Shiite mosques during the commemoration of Ashoura, killing nearly 100 people.
Although leaders of the Shiite majority have asked people not to retaliate, some at the funeral demanded vengeance.
"I cannot describe the amount of despair I feel," said Sher Qassim Mohammed Ali. "I lost seven of my sons, brothers and cousins. I want to know who carried out this attack ... we will avenge those who did it."
A similar decision to cancel a funeral procession was taken on March 1 in Hillah, south of Baghdad, when fears that insurgents would target crowds of Shiite mourners forced authorities to cancel an elaborate ceremony for some of the 125 people killed in a suicide bombing there.
"He who did this is a criminal, he killed Muslims and wanted to ignite sectarian strife. But God willing, we'll not allow that," said Ibrahim Moussa, 50, laying on a bed at Mosul's main hospital, his hand wrapped in bandages after surgery. His brother was killed in the attack.
Abed Tawfiq Abbas (search), a 47-year-old construction worker who was standing at the mosque gate when the explosion took place said gunmen in a car also opened fire simultaneously. Abbas was shot in the chest.
Mosul has been a hotbed of guerrilla activity, and the scene of many bombings, drive-by shootings and assassinations targeting the country's security services, majority Shiites and people thought to be working with U.S.-led forces.
At Baghdad's Um al-Qura mosque, a Sunni Muslim cleric denounced the bombings, but blamed Iraqi and U.S. authorities for failing to provide security.
"We strongly denounce the bombings and assassinations that killed innocent people," Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidei, a member of the influential Association of Muslim Scholars, told worshippers during a sermon at Um Al-Qura mosque. "Both the occupation and the Iraqi government shoulder the responsibility of this blood."
In other violence, insurgents blew up an oil pipeline near Samarra, 95 kilometers (60 miles) north of Baghdad. Fire and black smoke rose from the pipeline, which carries oil to the Doura refinery in Baghdad. The amount of damage was unclear.
Two Iraqi soldiers were killed and three wounded during clashes with insurgents on the road between Babil and Diwaniyah, south of the capital, said army Maj. Hassan Ali.
In central Baghdad, a car loaded with gunmen opened fire at a main hotel housing foreigners and a driver in a car with three children was critically injured in the crossfire.
The Shiite clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance and Kurdish parties agreed Friday on the make up of the three-member Presidency Council.
It would include Jalal Talabani (search) as Iraq's first Kurdish president and a Sunni and Shiite Arab for the two vice president posts, said Ali al-Dabagh, a negotiator for alliance. Names were not announced for those jobs.
The Kurds would receive one major Cabinet post — one fewer than they demanded — but they agreed to support the alliance's candidate for prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
Although the Kurds agreed to disband their 100,000-strong peshmerga militia and incorporate it into army units and security forces, they have opposed non-Kurdish army troops in the north.
Al-Dabagh said an agreement was reached to allow the deployment of ethnically mixed regular army units in the three Kurdish provinces, Sulaymaniyah, Irbil and Dahuk.
But Massoud Barzani of the Kurdish Democratic Party said regular army troops should only be deployed to Kurdistan if there was a serious security threat.
"But in all circumstances, this should be approved by the Kurdistan parliament," Barzani told Dubai's al-Arabiya television
The disagreement, however, was not expected to derail convening the National Assembly on March 16.
The Kurds, who comprise about 15 percent of the population, emerged as king makers because they voted in large numbers in the Jan. 30 national elections and won 75 seats in the 275-member National Assembly. The alliance won 140 seats and needs Kurdish support to assemble the two-thirds majority to elect a president, who will then give a mandate to the prime minister.
Sunni Arabs, who make up only about 20 percent of the population but were favored under Saddam's regime, largely stayed away from the elections — either to honor a boycott call or because they feared being attacked at the polls by insurgents.