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10 Killed in Northern Iraq Bombing; Rumsfeld Visits Baghdad - 2004-02-23


A suicide bombing at a police station in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk has killed at least 10 people and wounded scores of others

Iraqi police officials said the powerful explosion this (Monday) morning was caused by a car bomb, and that most of the victims were policemen.

A suicide bomber is among the dead, and there is a (French news agency) report that a second bomber was killed in the blast.

There has been no claim of responsibility, but insurgents have carried out many attacks in Iraq in the past several months, targeting police and others working with the U.S. - led coalition in the country.

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in Baghdad for talks with U.S. military officials. He also is to visit with American soldiers and members of the Iraqi security force. Mr. Rumsfeld flew to the Iraqi capital today (Monday) from Kuwait, where he began his previously unannounced trip to the Persian Gulf region.

This is the Pentagon chief's fourth visit to the Gulf since the U.S. - led invasion nearly a year ago.

In another development, the United Nations plans to release a report today by Secretary General Kofi Annan about Iraq's political future. The report is based on recommendations by a team of UN political experts sent to Iraq to study the feasibility of early elections.

Mr. Annan (who is visiting Japan) has said he agrees with U.S. officials who insist it would be impossible to arrange free and fair elections in Iraq before the end of June, when the United States intends to transfer power to an Iraqi administration.

Leaders of Iraq's majority Shi'ite Muslims want elections before the transfer of power takes place. U.S. officials say they believe a nationwide vote cannot be held before the end of the year, and possibly not until mid-2005.

Lakhdar Brahimi, Mr. Annan's personal representative in Iraq, spent a week in the country recently as head of a team of UN political experts, who met with various Iraqi groups.

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

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