- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

BAGHDAD — ABC News co-anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt were seriously injured yesterday in an attack and roadside bomb blast north of Baghdad, ABC News President David Westin said.

The top Sunni Arab political leader, Adnan al-Dulaimi, meanwhile, accused Shi’ite-dominated security forces of pursuing a strategy of sectarian “cleansing” in Baghdad and said he opposed giving key Cabinet posts to Shi’ites.

Iraq’s ceaseless violence killed at least 20 persons, including 13 Iraqi police officers and troops. Three Iraqis were killed in a spate of church bombings bearing the hallmarks of Sunni insurgent attacks.

Five coordinated car bombings targeted the Vatican mission, along with at least two churches in Baghdad and two churches in the northern city of Kirkuk within about 20 minutes.

Mr. Woodruff and Mr. Vogt underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital near the scene of the attack about 12 miles north of Baghdad, the network said.

Both men suffered head and shrapnel injuries even though they were wearing body armor, helmets and protective glasses, ABC News said. Mr. Vogt also had a broken shoulder.

“Bob and Doug continue to rest in stable condition in Iraq after their surgeries,” Mr. Westin said. “They remain in serious condition with injuries to the head and, in Bob’s case, injuries to the upper body, as well.”

Mr. Westin said the two soon would be flown to U.S. medical facilities in Landstuhl, Germany, for further treatment.

In Baghdad, the leader of the main Sunni bloc in the next parliament, Mr. al-Dulaimi of the Iraq Accordance Front, indicated he would resist awarding the vital Interior and Defense ministries to Shi’ites.

“We believe that the posts of the interior and defense ministers should be kept away from any sectarian and political considerations,” Mr. al-Dulaimi said at a press conference.

The Sunni stance sets the stage for a potentially fierce battle over the portfolios. On Saturday, the head of the Shi’ite militia, the Badr Brigade, said Shi’ite religious parties will “never surrender” those ministries, which are key to fighting a mainly Sunni insurgency.

Churches and the Vatican’s mission to Iraq were the latest targets of the violence.

Three civilians were killed and one was wounded in an attack on the Church of the Virgin in Kirkuk at 4:30 p.m., Col. Birhan Taha said. That explosion came 15 minutes after another car bomb exploded outside an Orthodox church, wounding at least six civilians. Both bombs were detonated by remote control, Col. Taha said.

In Baghdad, a car bomb detonated at 4:10 p.m. outside the Disciples of St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in the eastern Baghdad suburb of Sina’a, wounding two persons, police Maj. Qusai Ibrahim said.

About 20 minutes later, another vehicle exploded outside an Anglican church in eastern Baghdad’s Nidhal area, causing no casualties, police Lt. Ali Mitaab said.

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