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Bomb Blasts South of Baghdad Kill 8 Iraqis


Iraqi security officials say two bomb blasts have killed at least eight people in a mainly Shi'ite area south of Baghdad.

Police say the near simultaneous explosions wounded more than 20 people Wednesday morning in a busy market area where people had gathered for transport to their jobs.

Officials say several women and children were among the victims.

In another development, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Tuesday ordered new measures to improve government oversight of private security guards who protect U.S. personnel in Iraq.

A high-level panel recommended the new measures. Rice appointed the panel to examine the role of security firms in Iraq, following the September 16 shooting incident in Baghdad involving guards from the security firm Blackwater USA. As many as 17 Iraqi civilians were killed.

State Department officials say measures include clearer rules for the use of force, cultural awareness training, and better coordination between convoys, the military and local Iraqi authorities. They say lethal incidents will trigger more thorough follow-up procedures, and they could lead to prosecution by the U.S. Justice Department.

State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the U.S. government will continue to rely on private security contractors.

The State Department director who chaired the review panel said officials considered terminating Blackwater's contract, but they decided not to include that in the list of recommendations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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