BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government said Tuesday it will soon introduce new measures to fight the insurgency, allowing for the confiscation of property of people accused of abetting the rebels.
Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari's spokesman Leith Kubba told reporters that the measures to be implemented "soon" would "hold accountable anyone who doesn't inform authorities about threats to national security".
He did not detail the measures, but said they would involve confiscation of property, and would not be directly related to measures already in place under the state of emergency.
The government last week extended for another 30 days the state of emergency, which allows for curfews and the issue of arrest warrants, because of the continuing violence which has claimed close to 500 lives this month alone.
Kubba defended the need to introduce more drastic legislation, saying that in the past Western countries had done the same.
He cited Britain, which banned supporters of the Irish Republican Army from speaking on the air, and the United States, which froze assets believed to belong to groups listed as terrorist.
Jaafari's government, which took office earlier this month, is under pressure to prove it can control the security situation and fight insurgents who have stepped up their attacks in recent weeks.
The attacks continued unabated Tuesday.
A US soldier was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb exploded early Tuesday north of the Iraqi capital, the US military said.
The bomb "detonated next to their combat patrol about 30 kilometres south of Tikrit", some 180 kilometres (110 miles) from Baghdad, its said in a statement. The wounded soldier returned to duty after treatment.
US forces have seen 25 killed over the past 11 days -- including nine during the week-long Operation Matador in western Iraq that ended last Saturday.
US marines mounted the massive military operation near the Syrian border to deprive insurgents of "safe havens" and disrupt supplies of weapons and volunteers from across the border.
The total number of US service personnel who have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion now stands at 1,616.
An Iraqi Shiite cleric was gunned down in western Baghdad Tuesday, the latest victim in tit-for-tat violence between Shiites and Sunnis, an interior ministry official said.
At least nine other Iraqis were killed in other violence across the country.
"Gunmen in an Opel vehicle opened fire on the car of Sayyed Muwaffaq Mansur al-Samuwi, killing him and his driver," the official said.
The cleric was the imam of the small Ali Wali Allah mosque in Baghdad's Jihad neighbourhood. Another Shiite cleric was killed on Monday
Two Sunni clerics kidnapped two days ago were found dead, the same source said Tuesday.
On Monday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr all called for restraint.
A bloody cycle of attacks and revenge operations recently escalated in and south of Baghdad, culminating Sunday with the gruesome discovery of 46 bodies across the country.
Several victims were Sunnis, prompting accusations that Shiite militias were no longer heeding their clergy's calls for restraint in the face of attacks by Sunnis with links to the insurgency.
Also in Baghdad, an Iraqi working for the Commission on Public Integrity was shot dead by unknown attackers, the second employee of the anti-corruption body to be assassinated in a month.
In further unrest, unknown gunmen burst into a house in the village of Tunis, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of Baghdad, killing the owner and his three sons, an army officer said.
One Iraqi soldier was killed when a suicide bomber rammed his motorbike into a checkpoint near Tuz, 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of the capital, army Captain Omar Khaled said.
An hour later, nervous soldiers manning the checkpoint opened fire on a car that reportedly failed to slow down, killing three civilians.
Further north, the Iraqi army discovered the bodies of two Iraqi contractors working for the US military.
"The bodies of Nazhan Khaled al-Sarrai, 33, and Omar Hashim, 37, were found in a pit on the way to Sharqat Tuesday morning," said an army officer, adding that "3,000 dollars were found in one of the victims' pockets, as well as badges showing they were Baghdad residents."