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Gunmen kill TV employees in Iraq

  • Story Highlights
  • Gunmen abduct and kill at least four Iraqi television employees in Mosul
  • Journalist group says 132 journalists, 50 media workers killed in Iraq since 2003
  • Attack in Baghdad's Karrada district hits checkpoint manned by Iraqi forces
  • Four killed include three policemen and an Awakening Council member
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From Jomana Karadsheh
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen abducted and killed at least four Iraqi television employees Saturday in the northern city of Mosul, an Iraqi official and the TV station said.

The attack was one of several across Iraq on Saturday that left at least 14 people dead and more than 20 wounded.

The TV employees were abducted as they were videotaping a program that airs during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The show is called "Your Iftar Is on Us." Iftar is the meal that breaks the Ramadan daily fast.

The dead included Mosul bureau chief Musaab al-Azzawi, two cameramen and a driver, al-Sharqiya said in a televised announcement that interrupted regular programming.

Al-Sharqiya -- an Iraqi satellite TV channel broadcast out of Dubai -- described the gunmen as "forces of darkness" trying to "silence the voices of the free."

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said a fifth employee was wounded in the attack, but the station didn't mention anyone other than the four dead.

The ministry official said the five victims were dumped in the western al-Zanjili area of Mosul more than an hour after their abduction.

Two suspects have been detained in Mosul, according to Nineveh province's military operations commander, Gen. Jalal Tawfeeq, who spoke to al-Sharqiya.

The military will review video footage the crew shot at the time of their abduction, Tawfeeq said. The show donates food, money and electrical appliances to poor Iraqi families during Ramadan.

Al-Sharqiya, owned by a London, England-based Iraqi media tycoon, is a controversial channel. The Iraqi government shut its Baghdad office in early 2007, accusing it of inciting violence and hate.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said 132 journalists and 50 media workers have been killed in Iraq since 2003. Most of the dead are Iraqis, and the number does not include those killed Saturday.

In other violence Saturday, at least five civilians were wounded when an explosive device attached to a car detonated in northern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

Also, a roadside bomb in central Baghdad killed at least four people and wounded 10, an Interior Ministry official said. The attack, which happened in the Karrada district of the capital, targeted a checkpoint manned by Iraqi forces and members of awakening councils.

Three of those killed were policemen and one was an Awakening Council member. The wounded included at least four civilians.

Awakening councils consist mainly of former Sunni insurgents who turned against al Qaeda in Iraq. They are credited with being one of the main factors that have helped reduce violence in the country.

On Saturday morning, at least four Iraqi policemen were wounded when a roadside bomb struck their convoy in southern Baghdad, an Interior Ministry official said.

In Diyala province north of Baghdad, a roadside blast killed at least six Kurdish Peshmerga troops and wounded two, the official said.

The attack happened in the predominantly Kurdish Shiite district of Khanaqin northeast of Baquba.

Peshmerga-controlled Khanaqin is one of the areas disputed between the Kurds and the central government; Kurdish authorities want to integrate it into their semi-autonomous northern region.

Last month, Iraqi troops moved into Khanaqin as part of a military operation in the province, but the move sparked a serious crisis between the Kurds and the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

Western and Iraqi officials said the standoff between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army brought the country to the brink of an ethnic conflict.

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