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At Least 21 Killed In Latest Iraq Violence

At least 21 people were killed Thursday in attacks in Iraq, including 11 in an assault on a new Sunni-Arab television station in Baghdad, while authorities found the mutilated bodies of more likely victims of the sectarian death squads that roam the capital.

The raid on the southeastern Baghdad offices of Iraq's Shaabiya satellite station came at around 7 a.m. police Maj. Mahir Hamad said.

An unknown number of gunmen pulled up at the station in seven cars, stormed quickly into the offices and opened fire, then fled, station executive director Hassan Kamil told Associated Press Television News.

Kamil said 11 people had been killed, including technicians, two guards and the head of the station's board of directors.

The motivation behind the attack was not immediately clear, but it was the second attack on a television station in the capital in as many weeks.

Another four people were killed and eight wounded when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle ran into a police patrol, police Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said. Two policemen were among the dead in the attack in eastern Baghdad.

Elsewhere in the city, a synchronized bomb attack killed five and wounded 11 others, police Lt. Bilal Ali Majid said.

First a car bomb parked in central Baghdad's Qurtaba Square exploded, followed shortly afterward by second device planted on the roadside nearby, Majid said. One policeman was among the dead.

Insurgents are making increasing use of the tactic of detonating one bomb to draw attention to a spot, then a second to cause high casualties among onlookers and rescue workers.

In a similar attack, a bomb exploded at 7 a.m. near a Shiite mosque in northeastern Baghdad's Qahira neighborhood.

Two minutes later another bomb exploded nearby, wounding four people who had gathered at the place of the first explosion, police 1st Lt. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said.

In Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, a bomb attack in a residential district killed a woman and wounded six other people, police Capt. Laith Mohammed said.

In Suwayrah, 25 miles down river from Baghdad, authorities fished four bodies out of the Tigris that showed signs of torture.

Two of the victims had their throats cut and two others had been shot, said Hadi al-Attan, an official with the Kut morgue where the bodies were taken. All were blindfolded and had their hands and legs bound, he said.

According to new figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry, more than 2,660 Iraqi civilians were killed in Baghdad in September — 400 more than the month before despite an intensified U.S.-Iraqi sweep aimed at reining in violence.

The numbers indicate how tough the vital battle to secure Baghdad has proven amid a wave of bloodshed this year, not only from Sunni Arab insurgents but also from Shiite and Sunni death squads who kidnap and kill members of the opposing sect.

In other developments:

  • President Bush dismissed Wednesday as "not credible" a new U.S. study that says as many as 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S.-led war began. The timing of the survey's release, just a few weeks before the U.S. congressional elections, led one expert to call it "politics." The report was conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.
  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard refused to say Thursday how long Australian troops will likely stay in Iraq. Howard was asked to put a time frame on Australia's military deployment after the Pentagon said Wednesday that it plans to keep the current level of U.S. soldiers in Iraq through 2010. "I'm not going to commit us to a particular date," Howard said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "I will commit us to keeping forces there while there is an important job to be done," he said. Howard sent 2,000 troops to support American and British forces in the Iraq invasion. Howard also dismissed the study suggesting 655,000 Iraqis had died in the war.
  • Nine British soldiers have been charged with smuggling weapons out of Iraq to trade for drugs and cash, the Ministry of Defense said Thursday. The soldiers were to appear at a hearing on Nov. 30 to determine whether there will be a court-martial. The ministry declined to say whether the soldiers were accused of smuggling British weapons or weapons seized from insurgents, or to give any other details of the charges pending the court hearing.
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