BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Gunmen opened fire on Sunni mosques and homes in a religiously mixed Baghdad neighborhood Friday, killing four people in an attack that drew the condemnation of Sunni leaders across the city.

In other apparent sectarian violence, police found the blindfolded and bound bodies of nine men from a Sunni tribe who had been dragged out of a wedding dinner in east Baghdad the night before by men dressed in Iraqi army uniforms, police Maj. Mahir Hamad Mussa.

Four other bodies were found in other parts of the capital, again blindfolded and with their hands and legs tied.

The U.S. command said an American soldier was killed after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad late Thursday.

The attack on the mosques happened in the capital’s northern Hurriya area, a mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhood. Although it is a target of a joint Iraqi and American security operation to clear the capital neighborhood by neighborhood, sweeps in Hurriya have not yet begun.

About 20 gunmen started by opening fire on several houses and setting two ablaze, said police Lt. Maithem Abdel-Razzaq. In addition to the people killed, one was wounded.

They then opened fire on two mosques, damaging the buildings but not causing any injuries, Razzaq said. When U.S. and Iraqi soldiers arrived, supported by helicopters, the gunmen fled.

The 10:15 a.m. attack came 45 minutes before a weekly vehicle ban and curfew came into effect to prevent sectarian violence against worshippers on the Muslim holy day.

The rules were put in place after the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, which inflamed tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims and triggered months of reprisal attacks.

To protest the Hurriya attacks, the Sunni Endowment decided to suspend traditional Friday prayers in all Sunni mosques in the neighborhood, Sunni-run Baghdad TV reported.

“We condemn and regret such acts where the followers of the one religion are killing each other,” said Ayad al-Obeidi, an official in the Sunni Endowment, which is in charge of all Sunni mosques across Iraq. “The occupation forces have brought chaos and violence to this country and they bear responsibility for what is happening.”

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq’s Human Rights office this week warned that the number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high figure that is far greater than initial estimates had suggested and points to the grave sectarian crisis gripping the country.

It offered a grim assessment across a range of indicators, reporting worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, the growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in “honor killings” of women.

Elsewhere in Iraq, an imam at a Sunni mosque in western Baghdad took a swipe at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s 24-point reconciliation plan, demanding the government “take a serious stance” against the sectarian violence roiling the country.

Al-Maliki announced the plan last month in hopes of bridging the religious, ethnic and political divisions that have been tearing Iraq apart since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The plan includes an offer of amnesty to members of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency not involved in terrorist activities, and calls for disarming primarily Shiite sectarian militias.

“Those who want to achieve national reconciliation should take action regarding what happened in Hurriya,” Imam Mahmoud al-Sumeidie told worshippers at the Um al-Qura mosque. “If not, then the reconciliation plan would be a hollow and useless slogan.”

In Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, meanwhile, 3,000 people demonstrated outside a mosque, demanding the return of the former dictator to power, organizers said.

The people gathered in front of the al-Jamaa al-Kabir mosque at the call of two religious organizations, the Association of Muslim Scholars and the Tikrit Shura Council.

Saddam is on trial on genocide charges in Baghdad. The crowd demanded his release, and for him to be allowed to resume power again as president, said Mohammed Talib Jassim, head of the Tikrit Shura Council.

They also condemned Pope Benedict XVI’s recent remarks on Islam and violence and demanded the U.S. and Iraqi armies stop conducting raids and coalition forces release prisoners taken from Tikrit, located 80 miles north of Baghdad.

In other violence, according to police:

– Two police officers died when the roadside bomb they were trying to defuse exploded in Haswa, south of Baghdad.

– The body of a blindfolded and bound man was found in Musayyib, south of Baghdad.

– A gas pipeline between the Beiji and Dora refineries near Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, was attacked Thursday evening. It was not immediately clear whether it was an act of sabotage, or whether people had been trying to steal fuel from the pipeline.

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