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Iraq Transition

ABC anchor, cameraman in Iraq in stable condition

Hussein trial resumes with chaotic expulsions, walkout

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were in serious but stable condition Sunday after both were wounded by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, ABC officials said.

"The next few days will be critical. The [U.S.] military plans to evacuate them to their medical facilities in Landstuhl [Germany], probably overnight tonight," an ABC statement said.

Woodruff, 44, and 46-year-old cameraman Doug Vogt were in an Iraqi military vehicle near Taji, about about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Baghdad, at the time of the explosion, ABC said. (Watch the challenges of treating wounded at military hospital -- 3:29)

Woodruff and Vogt both suffered head injuries, the network said. Woodruff also suffered shrapnel injuries to his body, and Vogt has a broken shoulder, said ABC, which led its evening newscast with the report.

The two had been embedded with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. At the time of the blast, they were traveling with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the lead of an eight-vehicle convoy of U.S. armored Humvees, ABC said.

The network said the men -- wearing helmets and body armor -- were standing, videotaping a log of their trip, in the rear hatch of the vehicle when the bomb was detonated, apparently by a hard-wire connection.

The blast was followed by small-arms fire from three directions, ABC said.

Within 37 minutes of the attack, the men had been taken by helicopter to a combat-support hospital in the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone, the network said.

There, doctors determined the men needed surgery, and they were taken -- again by helicopter -- 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad to the U.S. military hospital in Balad. The hospital is the most technologically advanced in Iraq.

ABC News Producer Kate Felsen said she spoke with both men. "Doug was conscious and I was able to reassure him that I was getting them care," she said. "I spoke to Bob, also."

Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were named in December to replace the late Peter Jennings as "World News Tonight" anchors. They started earlier this month. Vargas anchored the broadcast Sunday night. (Full story)

Woodruff, an attorney and former law professor, began in journalism with CBS News as a translator in Beijing, China, during the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. During the initial invasion of Iraq, he was embedded with Marines on the front lines.

Vogt has been with ABC News for 15 years and has covered global hotspots from Bosnia to Gaza to Iran.

The White House has offered to help "in any way we can," said spokesman Trent Duffy.

"It is terrible news and we are praying for full and speedy recovery," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."

Reporting from Iraq is a dangerous proposition. According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, 79 journalists and assistants have been killed in the war zone since the United States invaded in March 2003.

The organization said 35 news media workers have been abducted since the war's start, including Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor. She was abducted earlier this month and has not been released. Five of the kidnap victims were killed.

Fireworks at Hussein trial

Saddam Hussein's trial heard from three witnesses Sunday before adjourning until Wednesday. The day in court was marked by the expulsion of a defendant and a defense attorney and a walkout by Hussein and two other defendants. (Watch trial chaos -- 2:19)

Hussein's half brother, Barzan Hassan, argued with new chief judge Raouf Rasheed Abdel-Rahman at the beginning of Sunday's proceedings. Hassan was dragged by four guards out of the courtroom and was later joined by a defense attorney who protested the trial with the judge.

After the expulsions, Hussein and two other defendants angrily walked out, as did the entire defense team. Four of the defendants remained in the court. (Full story)

Car bombs target churches

Seven bombs targeted churches in Baghdad and Kirkuk, killing three people and wounding 17, officials said Sunday.

Two car bombs exploded near churches in Kirkuk, killing three people and wounding 11 others, the chief of Kirkuk police said Sunday. Kirkuk is 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

Five bombs exploded Sunday afternoon in Baghdad, one of which wounded six people. There were no casualties in the other four blasts, officials said.

One other car bomb exploded in the capital. The explosion appeared to target an Interior Ministry convoy in southwestern Baghdad, police said. Two Interior Ministry police commandos and three civilians were injured.

Other developments

  • A roadside bomb killed two Iraqi soldiers and wounded another Sunday in Latifiya, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
  • Gunmen killed an Iraqi police officer and wounded four other officers in Baquba, an Iraqi official said. Baquba is about 37 miles (60 kilometers) north of Baghdad in Diyala province.
  • Also in Baquba, insurgent mortar rounds landed near a hospital, wounding two police officers and two civilians.
  • A mortar round landed in a southeast Baghdad neighborhood late in the afternoon, wounding two children.
  • CNN's Terence Burke, Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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