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Dignitaries' Visits Met With Violence In Iraq

8 December 2004 -- December 2004 -- Violent attacks on Iraqi and international targets continued in Iraq today as three senior foreign dignitaries made stops in the country.

Insurgents launched a string of attacks today around the Iraqi city of Samarra, some 100 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, killing several people.

Four Iraqis were killed and several others were wounded in the attacks.

In Ramadi, some 110 kilometers west of Baghdad, an attack on a U.S. military checkpoint killed at least two Iraqis. There was no immediate word on U.S. casualties.

In Hillah, south of the capital, a hospital official, Husayn Madlol, said police have found the decapitated body of an Iraqi National Guard soldier.

A U.S. military spokesman, Major Jay Antonelli, said a roadside bomb struck a U.S. military convoy in southern Baghdad, slightly injuring two soldiers.

The violence came as the U.S. and British secretaries of defense, Donald Rumsfeld and Geoffrey Hoon, visited troops in the region, as did South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

Rumsfeld, speaking to U.S. forces in Kuwait, said the United States needs to have sufficient forces in Iraq to ensure the country's transition to democracy.

"What we need to do is to have the appropriate number of forces in Iraq to help create an environment for them to succeed in moving their country off the path of a dictatorship toward a democracy and toward a country that's at peace with its neighbors," Rumsfeld said.

In the southern city of Al-Basrah, Hoon met with some of Britain's 9,000 soldiers who recently returned from a mission in central Iraq.

South Korean President Roh made a brief, unannounced visit to his country's 3,600 troops in the northern Irbil region of Iraq.


For more on events in Iraq, see RFE/RL's dedicated "The New Iraq" webpage.

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