Three suicide attacks in Iraq's northern city of Mosul have left at least 30 people dead, and wounded dozens of others. The latest violence comes as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld confirms American participation in contacts with Iraqis linked to the insurgency.
The attacks in Mosul targeted a police station, an Iraqi army base, and the city's main hospital. In the first attack, an explosives-laden truck blew up near the police station's perimeter wall, killing several people and leaving the facility partially destroyed. Shortly thereafter, a suicide driver detonated a bomb in a crowded parking lot outside a Mosul army base, killing workers employed at the site. A third attacker set off explosives strapped to his body at the hospital's guardhouse.
Asked about the continuing level of violence in Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said insurgent attacks could increase in the months ahead, as Iraq's elected leaders work on a new constitution. Mr. Rumsfeld spoke on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday.
"It [insurgent-led violence] is about level, actually, in terms of the number of incidents,” said Mr. Rumsfeld. “The lethality is up. There is no question that the enemy is a thinking enemy, that their attacks are more lethal than they had been previously. They are killing a lot more Iraqis. But if you think about the insurgency, they do not have any vision. There is no Ho Chi Minh. There is no Mao. This is led by Zarqawi. He is a Jordanian. He is the enemy of the Iraqi people."
The defense secretary also sought to downplay the significance of reports of contacts involving U.S. officials and some elements of Iraq's insurgency. The Sunday Times of London reports two such meetings have taken place outside Baghdad in recent weeks, in hopes of stemming violence in the country.
Speaking on NBC's Meet The Press, Mr. Rumsfeld said no one should be surprised that U.S. and Iraqi officials want to exert influence on members of the insurgency, and that such contacts are common.
"They [contacts] go on all the time,” he added. “Second, the Iraqis have a sovereign government. They will decide what their relationships with various elements of insurgents will be. We facilitate those [relationships] from time to time."
But Mr. Rumsfeld said no negotiations are taking place with hardened terrorist elements belonging to al-Qaida or those, as he put it, "with blood on their hands."