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Iraq Executes 13 Insurgents


Iraq has hanged 13 insurgents in the first executions carried out by the government since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Authorities gave few details about the men. Thursday's executions came as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged Iraqis to form a national unity government to lessen the threat of civil war.

In other developments, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has agreed to postpone the first session of parliament to March 19th -- a week beyond the constitutional deadline for the opening session of the legislature.

A decision on when to open the session has been held up by a dispute between the majority Shi'ite alliance and Mr. Talabani, on whether outgoing Shi'ite Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari should lead the new government.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Shi'ite leaders have ordered the Health Ministry to stop counting execution-style killings after the recent bombing of a Shi'ite shrine sparked weeks of violence.

The government put the official death toll from the first week of sectarian killings at 379 -- far lower than the one thousand tallied by some Iraqi officials. At least 10 more people were killed in a wave of attacks across Baghdad Thursday.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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