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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

20 Die as Violence Continues; Rebels Target Christian Sites

January 30, 2006|From Associated Press

BAGHDAD — Car bombs exploded in quick succession Sunday near four Christian churches and the office of the Vatican envoy to Iraq, killing three people and raising new concerns about sectarian tensions. At least 17 other people were killed in violence around the country.

No group claimed responsibility for the bombings, which occurred within half an hour near two churches in Baghdad and two in Kirkuk, 150 miles to the north. The fifth bomb exploded about 50 yards from the Vatican mission in the capital.

Suspicion fell on Islamic extremists such as Al Qaeda in Iraq -- led by Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab Zarqawi -- who have been responsible for massive car bombings and suicide attacks on Shiite Muslim civilians.

On Sunday, bombings and ambushes also killed eight policemen and a medic in attacks across Baghdad and the northern cities of Baqubah and Baiji.

A car bomb killed four Iraqi soldiers and wounded six in Al Auja, the birthplace of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, about 75 miles north of Baghdad. It was unclear whether the attack was linked to Hussein's trial, which resumed Sunday.

A former army general, Mahmoud Idham, was assassinated near Tikrit, police said. U.S. soldiers shot dead three men wearing Iraqi police uniforms during a gunfight in Kirkuk.

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