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Sunday, January 28

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Editor's Note: The CNN Wire is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents and producers, and The CNN Wire editors. "Posted" times are Eastern Standard.

Baghdad bombings kills at least 5, wound 15

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A series of bombings across Baghdad Monday killed at least five people and wounded 15 others, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said:

-- At 9:40 a.m., four people were killed and six wounded when a roadside bomb exploded in crowded al-Mustansriya Square in eastern Baghdad.

-- At 9:30 a.m., two people were wounded when a car bomb exploded in al-Hamza Square at the edge of Sadr city in eastern Baghdad.

-- At 8 a.m., a roadside bomb exploded, killing one person and wounding seven others in eastern Baghdad's al-Kindi square. (Posted 2:40 a.m.)

Hiker mauled by mountain lion is airlifted as condition worsens

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- With his condition deteriorating, a California hiker mauled by a mountain lion last week was airlifted from an Arcata, California hospital to a San Francisco medical facility for additional treatment Sunday, hospital officials said.

According to the officials, Jim Hall, 70, was expected to receive more specialized treatment for a severely torn scalp, puncture wounds and other injuries he suffered in Wednesday's attack in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Mad River Community Hospital spokeswoman Jessica Hall said Hamm was in serious, but stable condition. His was listed as "fair" on Saturday, but he suffered undisclosed complications overnight and required emergency surgery. (Posted 1:35 a.m.)

U.S. lawmakers urge more focus on 'forgotten' Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. lawmakers praised a proposed increase in aid to Afghanistan during a Sunday meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai but said the United States should pay more attention to a "forgotten war."

Pelosi, D-Calif., led a high-level House delegation to Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan over the weekend. In a statement issued Sunday evening, members said Karzai emphasized the need for more reconstruction aid and said they were "encouraged" by reports that the Bush administration would seek another $10.6 billion for Afghanistan.

"We will expeditiously consider this legislation and urge the international community to invest more fully in Afghanistan's future," the lawmakers said in a written statement. Most of the U.S. money would go to train and equip soldiers and police in Afghanistan, where American and NATO troops are still battling al Qaeda and Taliban fighters five years after al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. (Posted 9:35 p.m.)

Najaf battle stretches into Monday; Iraqis say 250-plus insurgents dead

NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- A pitched battle between U.S.-backed Iraqi troops and insurgents raged into the early hours Monday after Iraqi officials said they foiled a plot to attack pilgrims and kill leading clerics in the Shiite Muslim holy city.

Iraqi interior and defense ministry officials told CNN that an estimated 250 to 300 gunmen had been killed in the fight north of Najaf. They were part of a force of 400 to 600 insurgents who planned a massive siege of Najaf on Tuesday, the culmination of the Shia holy period of Ashura, the officials said.

Iraqi officials said insurgents planned to seize control of the city and surrounding province and kill top Shia religious figures -- including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most revered Shiite leader. At least nine Iraqi troops and two Americans were killed in the battle, which was "90 percent over" early Monday, Najaf police Col. Ali Jraiwi told the state television network al-Iraqia. (Posted 7 p.m.)

Iraqi government sacks mayor, 1,500 police in Baquba

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraq's government fired the mayor of the strife-torn city of Baquba for his suspected collaboration with Sunni Arab insurgents and fired 1,500 police officers in surrounding Diyala province for failing to take on the insurgents, government officials announced Sunday.

Mayor Khalid al-Senjeri, a Sunni, was kidnapped last Monday by insurgents who blew up his office and stole several police vehicles. He was released unharmed a few days later. Diyala Governor Raad Rashid al-Tamimi, a Shiite, announced al-Senjeri's dismissal on Sunday and ordered an immediate investigation into al-Senjeri's kidnapping.

And police and an Interior Ministry official said 1,500 police officers who fled rather than resist an insurgent attack on the city in November have been fired as well. The officials said large numbers of Iraqi police in Diyala, northeast of the capital, were collaborating with the insurgents. (Posted 5:20 p.m.)

U.S. helicopter down amid Najaf battle; 2 soldiers killed

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- The U.S. military confirmed reports that one of its helicopters went down north of Najaf on Sunday, killing two soldiers.

The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. ET) and the cause of the crash is still under investigation, the military said.

Iraqi officials said the chopper was shot down by insurgents in the Najaf area.

The Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers were assisting Iraqi security forces that had been attacked earlier in the day, the military said. Both soldiers' bodies have been recovered.

It is the third U.S. helicopter to go down under suspicious circumstances in Iraq in just over a week.

On Tuesday, a U.S. helicopter providing air security for two U.S. embassy officials came under heavy fire and crashed in eastern Baghdad, killing five employees for the Blackwater private security company. Three Iraqi insurgent groups claimed responsibility for the attack.

Last Saturday, a U.S. military Black Hawk helicopter -- believed to have been downed by a shoulder-fired missile -- crashed in Iraq's Diyala province last Saturday, killing 12 U.S. soldiers on board.

With the soldiers' deaths, 3,078 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraqi war. (Posted 3 p.m.)

Iraqi official: Over 250 gunmen believed to have been killed in Najaf battle

NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi and U.S. forces Sunday killed an estimated 250 to 300 gunmen in the Shiite holy city of Najaf during heavy fighting, an interior ministry official told CNN.

Those killed were part of a contingent of about 600 gunmen, stationed outside the city, who planned to attack Najaf, take control of the province, and kill Shia clerics including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the official said.

The insurgents were responsible for downing a U.S. helicopter with a missile near Najaf, the official said.

The official said the number of 250 to 300 killed is an Iraqi police estimate based on the type of artillery used in the battle and the number of insurgents involved in the fighting. (Posted 2:45 p.m.)

Two mortar rounds hit Baghdad's Green Zone; no word on casualties

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two mortar rounds landed in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad Sunday night, an Iraqi interior ministry official said..

The attack happened around 8:20 p.m. (12:20 p.m. ET) and there was no immediate word on casualties.

The Green Zone, or "Baghdad International Zone," is where the U.S. military maintains its headquarters. (Posted 12:51 p.m.)

Insurgents target Iraqi girls school in Baghdad; 5 dead, 21 injured

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Iraqi girls taking their midterm exams Sunday morning were the target of a mortar attack in western Baghdad that killed five of the students and wounded 21 others at the all-girls' school, an Iraqi interior ministry official said.

Insurgents fired at least three mortars at the al-Khulood secondary school in a mainly Sunni neighborhood, killing five girls between the ages of 12 and 14 years, the official said.

Those injured include students, employees and workers at the school in the Adil neighborhood, which is under the jurisdiciton of the Iraqi army, the official said. --From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq in Baghdad (Posted 12:20 p.m.)

Rival Palestinian groups continue to trade gunfire, kidnappings

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Violence between rival Palestinian factions continued to rage on Sunday, with Fatah gunmen abducting five Hamas members in Nablus -- including a bodyguard of the deputy Palestinian prime minister -- while Hamas gunmen tried to kill the bodyguard of Mohammed Dahlan, a top aide to the Palestinian president, according to Palestinian security sources.

Dahlan was not present at the time of the attack, the sources said.

It is the third day of factional violence among Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, which flared after a Hamas operative was killed Thursday by a bomb in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza.

So far, the fighting has killed 25 Palestinians, including a bystander and an 11-year-old boy in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza, security sources said.

Of those killed, five deaths occurred overnight Saturday into Sunday.

For the past three days, Fatah and Hamas militants have kidnapped more than 50 members of their rival groups -- most of them in the West Bank town of Nablus -- the sources said.

Hamas and Fatah have suspended talks aimed at sharing power in the government because of the violence, according to spokesmen for both groups.

The two Palestinian factions have differences in ideology and vision over what a Palestinian state should be and how it should be formed. (Posted 12:05 p.m.)

Lieberman may vote Republican in 2008 presidential race

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Joe Lieberman, a life-long Democrat until he became an Independent for the last election, said Sunday he would consider voting Republican in the 2008 presidential race.

"I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican, or even an Independent if there's a strong one," the U.S. Senator from Connecticut told "Fox News Sunday."

Lieberman ran for the Democratic party's president candidate in 2004. He became a shining star of the Democratic Party in 2000 when he served as then-Vice President Al Gore's running mate.

But his open support for President Bush on numerous issues, particularly the Iraq war, has ostracized many Democrats. He lost the Democratic primary in his re-election bid last year and had to run as an Independent to maintain his seat.

Asked about the current field of Democrat contenders for the presidency, all of whom have strong opposition to Bush's Iraq policy, Lieberman said, "You make a decision based on a whole range of issues. But obviously, the positions that some candidates have taken in Iraq troubles me. Obviously, I will be looking at what positions they take in the larger war against Islamist terrorism." (Posted, 10:50 a.m.)

Iraqi police say U.S. helicopter downed by insurgents; no word from U.S. military

NAJAF, Iraq (CNN) -- A U.S. helicopter was shot down near Najaf on Sunday, as fighting between insurgents and ground forces raged in the Shiite holy city, an Iraqi police official -- citing eyewitnesses -- told CNN.

There has been no confirmation from the U.S. military that any helicopters were shot down.

The chopper went down in Zarqa, a town about 10 km north of Najaf, the police official said. He added that police and witnesses are saying it was shot down by insurgents on the ground. -- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq (Posted, 10:45 a.m.)

Car bombs explode in Kirkuk; 8 dead, 15 wounded in one attack

KIRKUK, Iraq (CNN) -- At least two car bombs exploded in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Sunday, one of them killing eight people and wounding 15 others, police told CNN.

The car bomb that caused the casualties detonated outside a car lot in central Kirkuk. Police reported another car bomb in northern Kirkuk, shortly after 5 p.m. (9 a.m. ET), but there were no immediate reports of casualties. (Posted 10 a.m.)

U.S. military reports 3 U.S. troops killed Saturday in Iraq

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two U.S. soldiers and a Marine were killed Saturday in Iraq, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The two soldiers were killed in separate roadside bomb attacks north of the Iraqi capital, the military said.

One soldier, a member of the 89th Military Police Brigade, died Saturday when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in northern Baghdad.

In a separate attack, a roadside bomb detonated near a Multi-National Division-Baghdad patrol north of Baghdad, killing one soldier on Saturday.

According to the military, the unit was conducting a "route reconnaissance" when the improvised explosive device detonated.

A U.S. Marine was killed in fighting Saturday in Anbar province, the military said.

With the deaths, 3,076 U.S. military personnel have died in the Iraqi war.

There have been 76 U.S. military deaths this month. (Posted 10 a.m.)

Huckabee says he'll form committee for 2008 White House race

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Sunday he will file papers Monday to form a presidential exploratory committee, the initial step in a bid for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

"Tomorrow I'll be filing papers to launch an exploratory committee and yes I'll be out there," Huckabee told NBC's "Meet the Press."

A Huckabee adviser told CNN Friday the former governor planned to set up the exploratory committee sometime this week.

Huckabee, 51, who was barred by term limits from seeking re-election last year, is the 10th Republican to either form an exploratory committee or announce plans to do so.

An ordained Baptist minister and former religious broadcaster, Huckabee is likely to appeal to evangelical conservatives in the GOP base, some of whom have expressed qualms about the two potential Republican candidates now at the top of the polls, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

If elected, Huckabee would be the first clergyman to serve in the White House. (Posted, 9:22 a.m.)

Two mortars slam into girls' school in Baghdad; casualties unclear

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Two mortars slammed into a girls' school in a mainly Sunni neighborhood in western Baghdad Sunday morning but Iraqi police told CNN they could not confirm how many were killed or wounded.

The Iraqi Army, which has jurisdiction of Adil where the attack occurred, have not reported the number of casualties, police officials said. Residents told police at least one student of the al-Khulood school had been killed and 23 more had been wounded.

In eastern Baghdad a bomb concealed in a plastic bag ripped through a minibus in a Shiite neighborhood, killing one passenger and wounding seven others Sunday morning, a Baghdad police official said.

-- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 7:20 a.m.)

Pakistan police on high alert after two bombings over weekend

From CNN's Syed Mohsin Naqvi

LAHORE, Pakistan (CNN) -- Police officials in Pakistan told CNN they were on high security alert Sunday after Saturday's suicide bombing in Peshawar, which marked the second attack on Pakistani soil in a period of less than 24 hours.

Soldiers with the Pakistan Army were also patrolling in Peshawar and other cities around the country

Police said approximately 2,000 Shiite Muslims were in and around the mosque when the bominb exploded at 9:20 p.m. (11:20 a.m. ET).

At least 16 people, including a senior police official, were killed and 60 wounded, police sources said. They were gathering as part of the celebration of Ashura, a Muslim holy day observed on the 10th of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year. (Posted 6:59 a.m.)

Bomb kills 1 in Baghdad minibus attack

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A bomb concealed in a plastic bag ripped through a minibus in a Shiite neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, killing one passenger and wounding seven others Sunday morning, a Baghdad police official said.

Meanwhile, south of the capital in Najaf, a Shiite holy city, ongoing clashes sparked early Sunday between gunmen and Iraqi security forces left three gunmen dead and three Iraqi police officers wounded, an Iraqi interior ministry official in Baghdad said. (Posted 6:16 a.m.)

Gunmen ambush, kill Iraqi industry ministry advisor

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Gunmen ambushed and killed Adel Abdul Muhsen, an Iraqi industry ministry advisor and his daughter, also a ministry official, in western Baghdad's Yarmouk neighborhood Sunday, an Iraqi interior ministry official said.

The gunmen also shot and killed their driver and bodyguard.

-- From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq and Jomana Karadsheh (Posted 6:38 a.m.)

Netherlands extradite Iraqi-born Dutch citizen linked to terrorism targeting Americans

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States on Sunday was in custody of an Iraqi-born Dutch citizen extradited by the Netherlands' government for allegedly conspiring to kill U.S. citizens in Iraq, the Justice Ministry told CNN Sunday.

Iraqi native Wesam al-Delaema, 33, arrived on a Dutch plane Saturday and is the first suspect to face criminal charges in a U.S. court for alleged terrorist involvement in the violent Iraqi insurgency, Justice Ministry spokesman Ivo Hommes said.

The U.S. government charged him with possession of explosives and conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens in an attack. The Justice Ministry said intelligence reveals al-Delaema traveled to Iraq and met up with "Mujahideen from Fallujah" in 2003 and conspired with the group to conduct terrorist activities. (Posted 6:14 a.m.)

25 dead, dozens injured in several violent days in Gaza

GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Twenty-five Palestinians have been killed and dozens injured in several days of violence sparked when a Hamas operative was killed by a bomb in Gaza, according to Palestinian security and medical sources.

The dead include five people killed Sunday and three people killed Saturday near the Islamic University in Gaza in clashes between Hamas and Fatah. Eight Hamas members and two Fatah members died Friday in a gun battle in Jebaliya, near the home of Fatah member Mansur Shalayil.

Spokesmen for the two groups said Friday Hamas and Fatah have suspended talks because of the violence between the rival Palestinian factions. The groups have differences in ideology and vision over what a Palestinian state should be and how it should be formed. (Posted 2:26 a.m.)



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