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Powerful Blast Rocks Baghdad

25 December 2004 -- At least seven people, probably including a suicide bomber, were killed and 19 wounded in a blast on Christmas Eve yesterday in western Baghdad.

An explosive-rigged fuel tanker blew up in the affluent Mansur district, home to both Muslims and Christians.

The blast went off on a street close to the Libyan, Moroccan, and Jordanian embassies.

The attack took place shortly after U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld concluded a surprise visit to Iraq. Rumsfeld started his trip at the U.S. Army base in Mosul, where 22 people were killed in a suspected suicide attack earlier this week. From there, Rumsfeld visited Al-Fallujah, Tikrit, and Baghdad. He said the purpose of his visit was to thank troops and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a delegation of Iraqi Kurds has delivered a petition to the United Nations calling for a referendum on whether the Kurdish-run north should be independent or remain part of Iraq.

(compiled from wire reports)

[For the latest news on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]