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Monday, June 27, 2005

Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years - 06/27/05

Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years - 06/27/05Rumsfeld: Iraq effort may take 12 years

Insurgents may not be defeated quickly, he warns, as 47 people are killed in rebel attacks, suicide bombing.

By Sindbad Ahmed / Associated Press

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MOSUL, Iraq -- Police guarding a hospital were taking an afternoon nap, and many had stripped down to their underwear. A man strapped with explosives sneaked in and blew himself up -- one of three suicide bombings Sunday in Mosul as militants targeted this Tigris River city.

In all, 47 people died across Iraq, including a U.S. soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, six Iraqi soldiers gunned down north of the capital, and the five policemen killed at the Mosul hospital.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld warned that defeating the insurgents may take as long as 12 years and Iraq's own security forces will have to finish the job. He also acknowledged American officials have met with insurgents.

The blast at Mosul's Jumhouri Teaching Hospital blew a hole in the building and smoke began pouring out, followed by flames. An Associated Press reporter was outside when the explosion occurred.

Inside, the five dead officers were sprawled out, their bodies and the walls peppered with ball bearings. Eight more officers and four civilians were wounded

"I thought it was a mortar attack. I rushed to help and evacuate the dead. I picked up two legs and two hands. It seems they belonged to the bomber because we did not find a head or the rest of his body," Ahmed Mohammed al-Hadidi, a medic, said a few minutes after the explosion.

Sunday's attacks in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, began when a suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath watermelons in a pickup truck slammed into a two-story police station near a market. U.S. Army Capt. Mark Walter said 10 policemen and two civilians were killed, while eight others were wounded.

Less than two hours later, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the parking lot of an Iraqi army base on Mosul's outskirts, killing 16 people and wounding seven, Walter said. Most victims were civilian workers. Of the wounded, one lost a leg and another was paralyzed from the waist down, the military said.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attacks in Mosul -- the country's third-largest city. The claim, made on an Internet site used by militants, could not be verified.

The relentless violence has killed at least 1,323 people since April 28, when Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari announced his Shiite-dominated government.

Mosul is a religious and ethnic mosaic that some see as a microcosm of Iraq. It has a diverse population, including significant Kurdish and Christian minorities who live in mixed neighborhoods.

Some of Iraq's most feared terror groups -- including the Ansar al-Sunnah Army and al-Qaida in Iraq -- operate in the city.

Last November, gunmen stormed police stations, bridges and political offices, overwhelming police forces who, in many places, failed to even put up a fight. Some officers also allegedly cooperated with insurgents. Only about 1,000 of the city's 5,000 policemen returned to work, forcing the government to recruit new officers.

The U.S. military praised the Iraqi forces for their efforts in the face of Sunday's attacks.

"This was the third suicide attack of the day, two of which have targeted Iraqi police," the military said of the hospital attack. "However, policemen in Mosul have continued to man their posts."

Rumsfeld said he is bracing for even more violence.

"We're not going to win against the insurgency. The Iraqi people are going to win against the insurgency. That insurgency could go on for any number of years. Insurgencies tend to go on five, six, eight, 10, 12 years," Rumsfeld told "Fox News Sunday."

The defense secretary also acknowledged meetings between U.S. officials and insurgents in Iraq after a British newspaper reported that two such meetings took place recently at a villa north of Baghdad.

Insurgent commanders "apparently came face to face" with four American officials during meetings on June 3 and June 13 at a villa near Balad, about 25 miles north of Baghdad, The Sunday Times reported.

When asked on NBC's "Meet the Press" about the report of the two meetings, Rumsfeld said, "Oh, I would doubt it. I think there have probably been many more than that."

He insisted the talks did not involve negotiations with Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but were rather facilitating efforts by the Shiite-led government to reach out to minority Sunni Arabs, who are believed to be the driving force behind the insurgency.

The soldier was killed when a roadside bomb struck a U.S. convoy Sunday in the capital, said Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams, a spokesman for Task Force Baghdad.

The U.S. military on Sunday also confirmed the deaths of two more Marines in Thursday's ambush on a convoy carrying female U.S. troops in Fallujah, bringing the number killed to at least four Marines. A Marine and a sailor were still missing and presumed dead, the military said. At least two of the dead were women, and 11 of the 13 wounded troops were female.

Also Sunday, six Iraqi soldiers were gunned down outside their base in Sadiyah, 60 miles north of Baghdad.

In other developments:

--A mortar round exploded at a house in Baghdad, killing a woman and two children. One child was wounded.

--Gunmen killed police Col. Riyad Abdul Karim, an assistant district police director of emergency services, in Baghdad. Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility.

--A female journalist working for Iraqiyah TV was shot to death in Baghdad.

--Four mortar rounds hit a neighborhood in Ramadi, killing one civilian and wounding two others.

--Gunmen killed the owner of a pharmacy in western Iraq, hospital officials said.

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