Thousands of Shiites rally supporting of government constitution

Thousands of Shiite Muslims show support for Iraq's new constitution and the Shiite-dominated government, Friday, rallied in the southern city of Basra to. The U.S. military said three American soldiers were killed in action in Baghdad and south of the capital.

Also Friday, five Iraqi soldiers were killed and nine wounded in a bombing targeting their convoy near Beiji, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Baghdad, the Iraqi military said.

The demonstration by at least 5,000 people in Basra, the country's second largest city, was organized by the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the Shiite Dawa Party. It was larger than the rallies Sunni Arabs have staged against the constitution recent weeks.

In Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, about 2,000 Sunni Arabs from the surrounding province met Friday to urge fellow Sunnis to reject the constitution in the Oct. 15 referendum because its provision on federalism will lead to the breakup of the country.

The rally in Basra was sponsored by two major Shiite parties whose representatives played a key role in drafting the new charter.

Demonstrators chanted "Yes to the constitution" and carried banners that said: "The constitution is a guarantee for better future," and "Freedom and justice will be achieved by this constitution," reports the AP.

Photo: the AP

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