BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded near a busy square in a predominantly Shiite area in northern Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people and wounding 22, police officials said.

The explosion occurred about 8:30 p.m. — about 90 minutes before a nightly curfew — as many people were out doing errands and buying ice cream on the square in Kazimiyah, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

The 14 killed and 22 wounded included women and children, the officials said, adding that the glass was shattered in shops selling soft drinks and ice cream and other buildings.

Kazimiyah is the site of Baghdad's holiest Shiite Muslim mosque, which holds the remains of the Imam Moussa Kadhim and his grandson, two of the 12 major Shiite saints. But the blast occurred about a half-mile away from the shrine.

It was the second blast to strike the neighborhood in three weeks. Two simultaneous car-bomb explosions struck on June 6, killing at least seven people and wounding nearly 30.

Roadside bombs killed five policemen north of Baghdad and another five civilians in the capital, police said. Drive-by shootings killed one man and injured six others in Baghdad, and at least three rockets or mortars targeted the heavily guarded Green Zone there.

In the capital's Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, two people were killed in separate cars enveloped in a barrage of gunfire. TV video showed blood splattered across the vehicles, one of which was smashed. Both had multiple bullet holes in their windshields.

Dozens of residents swarmed at the scene, and hauled the bodies out of the cars. Witnesses at the scene who did not give their names told AP Television News the men had been shot by American soldiers, who were stuck in a traffic jam and opened fire on cars around them.

But the U.S. military said four or five men armed with AK-47 assault rifles engaged an American military police unit, and a gunbattle ensued. One suspected insurgent was killed, the military said in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press. It did not explain the discrepancy with witness accounts.

Also Wednesday, a leading Sunni politician suggested that the Sunni minister of culture might be allowed to resign and leave the country to ease sectarian tensions arising from allegations that he was behind a 2005 assassination attempt against another politician, whose two sons died in the attack.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Culture Minister Asad Kamal al-Hashimi, who has gone into hiding. Sunni politicians claim the allegation is part of a campaign by the Shiite-dominated government to marginalize Sunni political leaders.

In an interview with the U.S.-funded Radio Sawa, Sunni leader Adnan al-Dulaimi said the minister's departure from Iraq "will be facilitated."

"I believe he will leave Iraq and declare his resignation," al-Dulaimi said. "We will all feel relaxed when this case is closed and is not raised by the media or any other side."

Some Sunni politicians in Iraq expressed outrage over al-Hashimi's arrest warrant. Muhannad al-Issawi, a spokesman for al-Dulaimi, called the move "a political matter not a judicial one."

"It aims to marginalize the Sunnis" and their main parliamentary bloc, the Iraqi Accordance Front, al-Issawi told the AP by telephone.

He said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a Sunni delegation Tuesday that he would halt the moves against al-Hashimi. Al-Maliki's office denied the claim, saying the case was a matter for the judiciary.

The move against al-Hashimi came after he was identified by two suspected militants as the mastermind of a Feb. 8, 2005, attack against secular politician Mithal al-Alusi, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said. Al-Alusi escaped unharmed but two of his sons were killed.

The U.S. is pressing the Iraqis to enact a series of laws to bring together the country's warring factions. Sunni politicians have long accused the Shiites of seeking to marginalize them.

In other scattered violence, five policemen were killed in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, a hospital official said on condition of anonymity out of security concerns. Afterward, police opened fire randomly on the area, killing one civilian and wounding two others, the official said.

Five civilians died later in northern Baghdad, when a bomb planted under a car exploded, police said. Ten people were also injured in the blast, they said.

In the al-Bashir area, about 15 miles south of Kirkuk, gunmen attacked a police station and clashes erupted, police Brig. Sarhat Qadir said. Four policemen were killed and two others hurt, he said.

Unknown gunmen opened fire on a civilian car in a southwestern section of the capital, killing a man and wounding his son who was riding with him, police said.

In another incident, police said gunmen opened fire on a minibus in western Baghdad, injuring five civilians including the driver. The victims were two Shiite men and their wives, heading to the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of the capital, police said. The shooting took place in a predominantly Sunni Muslim neighborhood.

Four pedestrians were also wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, in the commercial Palestine Street area, police said. The bomb had apparently targeted a U.S. military convoy, but there was no word on any American casualties, they added.

Meanwhile, Turkey's military chief, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit, asked his government to set political guidelines for an incursion into northern Iraq to fight Kurdish guerrillas.

But the government is likely to consider military action only as a last resort: Asking parliament to approve such an incursion would strain ties with Washington and Iraq, which oppose such unilateral Turkish action.

Buyukanit had asked his government in April to approve a cross-border incursion into Iraq, increasing pressure on the United States and Iraq to crack down on Kurdish rebels. But the government said then that priority should be given to fighting guerrillas who are already inside Turkey.