US prepares media drive as 34 children killed in blast

WASHINGTON - The US government is to launch an 'aggressive' PR and advertising campaign to sell democracy in Iraq and combat the fear and terror in the country, which today suffered one of its deadliest days as dozens of children were been killed in bomb blasts.

The co-ordinated bomb blasts in Baghdad took the lives of 41 today with at least 34 identified as children.

Bombs were detonated near a water treatment plant as US troops passed by, injuring around 130 who had gathered to watch it open. Two US soliders were also killed along with several Iraqi security personnel.

The PR and advertising campaign will also look to boost the reputation of the allied forces' lead military operation, Multi-National Corps-Iraq.

Multi-National Corps-Iraq will eventually manage the initiative, which involves media training its Iraqi and non-Iraqi staff.

The campaign, designed to boost public opinion of the allied-led force, will also require monitoring of public opinion.

Companies invited to tender for the contract include US-based agencies and Western-orientated contractors in the Middle East.

The contract will be awarded initially for a year with the possibility of a one-year extension. MNC-I was set up in May to tackle "non-compliant forces" in Iraq.

The Coalition Provisional Authority enlisted Bell Pottinger Communications for a three-month contract in March to campaign for the establishment of democracy.

Bell Pottinger led a consortium of agencies to promote elections and the transition to Iraqi rule.

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