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Iraq Executes 13 Insurgents


Iraq has hanged 13 insurgents in the first government executions since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Authorities gave few details about the men.

Thursday's executions came as U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld urged Iraqis to form a national unity government to lessen the threat of civil war.

He also told a U.S. Senate committee that if a civil war did erupt, Iraqi forces would deal with it to the extent they are able to.

The general who commands U.S. military activities in the Middle East said at the same hearing that sectarian tensions in Iraq are at their highest level so far. But he said the security situation in the country is controllable by Iraqi and coalition forces.

Also Thursday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani agreed to postpone the first session of parliament to March 19th -- a week beyond the constitutional deadline for the opening session of the legislature.

And the U.S.-led multinational force says Iraqi soldiers found weapons caches south of Baghdad near the Euphrates River that included items to detonate roadside bombs.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that Shi'ite leaders have ordered the Health Ministry to stop counting execution-style killings after the recent bombing of a Shi'ite shrine sparked weeks of violence.

The government put the official death toll from the first week of sectarian killings at 379 -- far lower than the one thousand tallied by some Iraqi officials.

At least 10 more people were killed in a wave of attacks across Baghdad Thursday.

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