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20 killed in Iraq rebel attacks

Six coordinated car bombs were set off near churches and a roadside bomb wounded a US television news anchor and his cameraman.
By Jay Deshmukh (AFP) | None, Baghdad
UPDATED ON JAN 30, 2006 11:48 AM IST

At least 20 Iraqis were killed in rebel attacks and bombings, including six coordinated car bombs set off near churches, while a roadside bombing wounded a US television news anchor and his cameraman.

The latest rebel attacks on Sunday came as the trial of ousted president Saddam Hussein was thrown into fresh chaos, with Saddam walking out and his half-brother Barzan al-Tikrit being ejected from the court on the judge's order.

Before the trial started, churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk were hit with a series of car bombs killing three and wounding more than a dozen Iraqis.

In central Iraq, Bob Woodruff, news anchor with the US television network, and his cameraman Doug Vogt were seriously wounded when the vehicle they were in hit a roadside bomb near Taji, north of Baghdad.

The two were embedded with the US army's 4th Infantry Division, but riding in an armoured Iraqi security forces vehicle ahead of an eight-vehicle convoy at the time of the attack.

The pair was flown on Monday to a US military medical facility in Landstuhl, Germany, after undergoing surgery in Iraq.

The two journalists were wearing helmets and body armor while riding in the back hatch of the vehicle, shooting a video, when the bomb exploded.

The violence on Sunday across Iraq claimed at least 20 lives, including ten Iraqis killed and two wounded by a roadside bomb in Eskandiriyah town, 65 kilometres south of Baghdad, according to a police officer from Hilla.

Mahamud Daham Bidewi, an assistant to Tikrit's chief of staff during Saddam's regime, died when rebels fired a rocket at his home; and in the northern oil refinery town of Baiji, gunmen killed a police captain.

Four Iraqi soldiers were killed when a suicide car bomber blew himself up by their patrol near Saddam's native village of Ojah, 180 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Later, six coordinated car bombs and a roadside bomb went off near churches across the Iraqi capital and in Kirkuk, killing three and wounding 19.

The UN's Iraq representative Ashraf Qazi branded the bombings "a reprehensible act that can only exacerbate sectarian violence," and called upon Iraqi authorities to preserve the safety of all worshippers and the sanctity of places of worship.

In another incident, gunmen shot dead a former senior army officer of Saddam's regime, east of Mosul.

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