Militants attack Iraq TV channel HQ: Police

AFP , Monday 23 Dec 2013

Militants attacked a local television station headquarters north of Baghdad on Monday, storming the building and setting off bombs, police and journalists said.

Four suicide bombers entered the headquarters of the Salaheddin television channel in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, a police lieutenant colonel said. There were three explosions inside, the cause of which was unknown.

A police major said militants set off a car bomb at the gate of the building, after which a suicide bomber detonated explosives and militants moved in.

An AFP journalist near the scene said security forces had surrounded the building and were waiting to move in.

The number of casualties was not immediately clear, but some people were still trapped inside the building, journalists said.

"I managed to escape, and I am outside the building, and the third and the fourth floors are on fire now," a Salaheddin journalist told AFP by telephone.

"Some of my colleagues are trapped in the building, among them two women. I am calling them on their mobile phones and they are not answering," he said.

A journalist from Iraqiya state TV, which has an office in the same building, said he was among those who were able to escape, while others were still trapped inside.

Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over the lack of media freedom and the number of unsolved killings of journalists.

Seven Iraqi journalists have been killed in attacks in less than three months.

Violence in the country has reached a level not seen since 2008, when the country was just emerging from a period of brutal sectarian killings.

More than 6,650 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.

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