Gunmen in Baghdad have attacked Shi'ite pilgrims on their way home after celebrating an important religious holiday.
In the apparent case of sectarian violence, Iraqi police say at least two Shi'ites died and dozens were wounded when gunmen opened fire Wednesday on a bus and a truck carrying the pilgrims. They had just arrived in western Baghdad after attending a Shi'ite mourning ritual, Arbayeen, in the holy city of Karbala.
The gunmen ambushed police rushing to the scene, and two policemen died.
Earlier Wednesday, Iraqi police, with U.S. troops, captured at least 50 insurgents who had stormed a police station south of Baghdad, killing at least four policemen.
Separately, President Bush said it is important for Iraqis to begin taking the lead in the fight for their future.
In a speech in (the U.S. state of) West Virginia, Mr. Bush also said he will decide on U.S. troop levels in Iraq based on what U.S. military officers advise and not on "polls, focus groups or election-year politics."
In other news, a U.S officer, Colonel John Tully in charge of security in three provinces south of Baghdad told VOA Iraqi forces are becoming so competent he believes fewer U.S. troops will be needed in the area by the end of the year.
Senior U.S. officials say that type of local progress will result in broader U.S. troop reductions, but they have refused to put a timeframe on the plan.
And the U.S. military says coalition forces killed four al-Qaida terrorists and detained one during a raid on a top al-Qaida cell leader near the city of Samarra.