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Twin Suicide Bombs Kill 50 in Attacks on Kurdish Targets in Northern Iraq
Sonja Pace
VOA, Baghdad
01 Feb 2004, 13:18 UTC

Suicide bombers in northern Iraq killed at least 50 people Sunday with near-simultaneous attacks on the offices of two Iraqi Kurdish political parties. The attacks in the city of Arbil wounded scores of other people, and officials say the death toll could rise. These are the latest in a series of bloody attacks in two days against Iraqi civilians, police and American forces. The violence comes as U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visits Iraq to meet with troops and assess the security situation.

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Witnesses in Irbil say one suicide bomber blew himself up in a meeting hall of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and another detonated his explosives across town at the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. In both places many Kurds had gathered to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Authorities have warned of increased violence ahead of and during the holiday period.

On Saturday, at least nine Iraqi civilians and police officers were killed when a car carrying explosives blew up in front of a police station in the northern city of Mosul. Forty-five other people were wounded by the blast.

In a separate attack, U.S. officials say three American soldiers were killed when their convoy was struck by a roadside bomb blast between the towns of Tikrit and Kirkuk.

Later Saturday, witnesses say, at least five people were killed in explosions in a crowded Baghdad neighborhood.

The violence comes as U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz pays a visit to Iraq. Mr. Wolfowitz said he wants to get a first-hand look at the situation on the ground and to see how the rotation of American forces in and out of the country is progressing.

The deputy defense secretary flew in from Germany, where he met with U.S. soldiers scheduled to be deployed in Iraq. His visit to Iraq was not announced in advance for security reasons.

Mr. Wolfowitz is widely seen as one of the main architects of the U.S.-led war. He said that recent revelations of flawed intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction do not mean the war was not necessary.

The United States and Britain cited Iraq's possession of such weapons as a main reason for going to war. So far, no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and former U.S. weapons inspector David Kay has said he does not believe Iraq had such weapons prior to the start of last year's war. Mr. Kay says intelligence agencies got it wrong.