Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki declared Wednesday a month-long state of emergency in Basra, where violence has erupted in recent weeks among rival Shiite factions fighting for control of its rich oil resources, and sectarian tensions remain high.
"We will beat with an iron fist on the heads of gangs who are manipulating security. ... Security is first, second and third. This must be said," al-Maliki told local leaders in Basra in an address broadcast live on television, according to a translation from Reuters.
The southern Iraqi city, which has been under the control of the British military, had been relatively calm since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
But in the past month, nine British soldiers, serving as part of the U.S.-led coalition, have died there -- five of them in a May 6 helicopter crash which sparked fighting between Iraqis and British troops.
The helicopter was apparently shot down.
Britons were shocked to see jubilant Iraqis pelting British troops with stones, hurling firebombs and shouting slogans in support of a radical Shiite Muslim cleric, after the crash.
The ensuing melee left at least four Iraqis dead, according to hospital officials.
Deaths in Baghdad
Over a 24-hour period, police found at least 40 bodies in eastern and western Baghdad, with bullet wounds to the head and signs of torture, police told CNN. The victims could not be immediately identified.
In addition, gunmen killed four civilians in north-central Baghdad during a morning attack on a police patrol station. At least 15 gunmen were involved in the attack, which touched off fighting with police.
Seven people were wounded.
In a noncombat incident, a U.S. soldier attached to Multi-Division-Baghdad died on Wednesday at approximately 5:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m. Tuesday). The death brings the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq to 2,471.
Mosul car bomb wounds 19
A car bomb targeting a police patrol in Mosul wounded 19 people, including five police officers, in the southern part of the city, police said.
The bomb exploded around noon (4 a.m. ET).
Mosul is 350 miles (560 km) northwest of Baghdad.
Diyala mayor killed
A bomb ripped through the office of a Diyala province mayor on Wednesday, killing the mayor and wounding four employees, police in Baquba said.
The mayor has been identified as Elaiwi Farhan, who presided over Muqdadiya, about 25 miles north of Baquba, the provincial capital.