Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has extended the country's emergency laws for another 30 days, to guard against attacks in the run-up to the January 30th election.
The emergency laws, originally announced two months ago and set to expire today (Thursday), give the government special powers to impose curfews and restrict movement between cities.
Meanwhile, in Jordan, Iraq's neighbors are holding a conference that is expected to endorse the election and urge Iraqis to defy boycott calls from some Sunni groups that are concerned about the escalating violence.
In another development, police say the bodies of 18 young Shi'ite men have been found shot execution-style near the northern city of Mosul, where they were headed to work at a U.S. military base. Their bodies were discovered Wednesday, but police say the men were killed nearly a month ago.