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Rumsfeld Visits Baghdad

Baghdad, 23 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- During a visit to Iraq today, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld praised the work of Iraqis who are coming forward to help keep peace in the country.

Rumsfeld flew into Baghdad today on a previously unannounced visit.

He met with young members of Iraq's new security forces and told them he is impressed with the progress they are making.

At a U.S. military headquarters east of Baghdad, U.S. officers briefed Rumsfeld on continuing efforts to turn more and more to Iraqi police and civilian defense agencies as the primary providers of security in Iraq.

It was Rumsfeld's fourth trip to the region since the U.S.-led coalition ousted President Saddam Hussein last spring.

In other news, Iraqi police say that an apparent suicide car bomb attack outside a police station in the northern city of Kirkuk today killed several people and wounded dozens.

Police and ambulance workers said at least six people were killed and some 25 others injured when the blast went off in front of the Rahimawa police station where dozens of policemen had gathered to get their day's orders.

The explosion heavily damaged nearby buildings and destroyed cars.

This was the latest in a string of vehicle and suicide bombings to target Iraqi security forces. The attacks have killed more than 300 people, mostly Iraqis, this year. Kirkuk, located in an area rich with oil fields, is ethnically divided and tense.