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Iraq Transition

Gunmen kill 9 at Sunni TV station in Baghdad

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Seventeen people died Thursday in scattered attacks across Baghdad, including nine at a Sunni satellite TV station, police said.

In the attack on the Shaabiya satellite channel, gunmen got out of six cars and stormed the station's offices in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna.

An official with the station earlier identified five of the dead as employees and two others as guards. It's unclear who the remaining two were.

The station has not officially opened and has only aired test broadcasts, the official said.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, called it "the deadliest single attack against the news media since the Iraq conflict began three years ago."

"It's a horrible reminder of why this remains the most dangerous assignment in the world right now for journalists, especially local reporters," Simon said.

He urged authorities to "do everything in their power to end the cycle of impunity and bring the perpetrators of these brutal crimes to justice."

In other violence Thursday, two bombs exploded within 10 minutes of each other in central Baghdad's Bab al-Shurqi commercial area, killing five people and wounding 10 others, including three police officers, police said.

Also in central Baghdad, a motorcycle rigged with explosives went off as it targeted a police patrol, killing three people and wounding 15 others. One of the dead and five of the wounded were police officers in the attack in Qahira Square.

Violence appears to have worsened despite U.S. and Iraqi forces' efforts to enforce order amid the daily onslaught of insurgent and sectarian attacks.

U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell noted that attacks historically increase by about 20 percent during the holy month of Ramadan, which lasts until late October.

"We assume it will still get worse before it gets better," Caldwell said, pointing to a "tremendous spike" in the number of attacks recently. "We expect violence to continue to increase over the next two weeks till the end of Ramadan."

Separately, Iraqi police officials found 40 bullet-riddled bodies Wednesday in various neighborhoods throughout the capital, all showing signs of torture.

More than 400 bodies have been found in a similar condition in Baghdad this month alone. Police suspect the killings are a result of sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.

Nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the war, mostly through violence or deteriorating health and environmental conditions, U.S. and Iraqi public health researchers said in a controversial study released Wednesday. (Full story)

President Bush and Iraqi officials strongly disputed the findings.

U.S. soldiers killed

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday in separate incidents.

One was killed and two others wounded in northern Iraq's Tameem province "as a result of enemy action," according to a military statement Thursday.

The dead soldier was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and is a member of Task Force Lightning, the military said.

The other soldier died when a roadside bomb struck his patrol in central Baghdad, the military said.

There have been 39 U.S. military deaths in October. The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 2,746. Seven American military contractors also have been killed in the war.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.


SPECIAL REPORT

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide
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