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Iraq PM urges political stability

Iraq's prime minister has called for unity and greater political stability to ensure the country's security after the end of the American military presence.

Speaking at a televised celebration in Baghdad, Nouri al-Maliki warned Iraqis against "excessive joy" over the departure of American troops, saying the country's security situation remains perilous. The last US combat soldiers left on December 18.

Mr al-Maliki called on all Iraqis to unite in the interests of the nation and stressed that Iraq needs stability if it hopes to remain secure and rebuild.

"We need political stability so we can address the world in one voice and not in ... conflicting voices," he said.

The comments come during a political crisis that started after his government issued an arrest warrant for Iraq's top Sunni politician, reigniting fears that sectarian tensions could divide the country and even reignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

Mr al-Maliki is also trying to get rid of his deputy prime minister, another Sunni, leaving many Sunnis worried that they are being sidelined from power.

A Katyusha rocket exploded in Abu Dshir, a Shiite enclave in the mainly Sunni neighbourhood of Dora in the south west of Baghdad, killing one civilian and wounding four others, according to police and a hospital official.

In the capital's south east, a police car struck a roadside bomb, wounding seven, including three policemen.

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