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Suicide attacks leave 33 dead in Mosul

Rumsfeld confirms Pentagon officials took part in talks with militants

MOSUL (IRAQ): A string of suicide attacks killed at least 33 persons and wounded 27 in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Sunday, the U.S. military and police officials said.

The first attack happened at the police headquarters in Mosul, killing 10 policemen and two civilians and wounding eight more, said U.S. Army Capt. Mark Walter, a spokesman in Mosul.

Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a parking lot outside an Iraqi army base on the outskirts of Mosul, killing 16 and wounding seven more, Capt. Walter said. Almost all of the victims were civilian workers arriving at the site.

A third attacker strapped with a belt of explosives walked into Mosul Jumhouri Teaching Hospital and blew himself up in a room for police officers guarding the facility, killing five policemen and wounding 12 others.

Mosul, the country's third-largest city, is 360 km northwest of Baghdad and considered a militant stronghold.

Move to split resistance

Meanwhile, in Washington, U.S. Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld confirmed on Sunday that Pentagon officials have taken part in negotiations with Iraqi militants. In answer to a question on Fox News television about a report that U.S. officials had met militants in a bid to split off the home-grown rebels from foreign fighters, Mr. Rumsfeld said: ``Sure, my goodness, yeah. The first thing you want to do is split people off and get some people to be supportive.

The same thing's going on in Afghanistan,'' he said. Mr. Rumsfeld added that ``the meetings ... go on all the time,'' and said ``I think the attention to this is overblown.''

``I would not make a big deal out of it,'' he said. According to the report in the London Sunday Times newspaper, U.S. officials have held talks with militants in the hope of negotiating a breakthrough that might stem the violence. — AP, AFP

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