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Blast Kills 15 in Baghdad During Gates Visit


A car bomb blast in central Baghdad has killed at least 15 people during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Despite the violence, Gates told reporters a secure and stable Iraq is within reach. He was making an unannounced visit to assess progress in security.

The car bomb in Baghdad's busy Karrada district also wounded more than 30 people.

It was the fourth car bomb attack in Iraq, Wednesday. At least eight people were killed in earlier blasts in the cities of Mosul, Baquba and Kirkuk. Wednesday's bombings follow a decline in the level of violence across Iraq.

Gates's visit included meetings with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other senior officials to get their view of the situation and to see what more they can do to improve security.

In other news, the Iraqi Red Crescent reported a decline in the number of internally displaced people. The report says nearly 110,000 Iraqis displaced within the country since the 2003 invasion returned to their homes in October. More than two million people remain internally displaced in Iraq.

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

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