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    52 killed in Iraq church raid


    by ODN

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    The death toll from the siege of a church in Baghdad has risen to 52, and there are dozens also wounded.

    The incident began at dusk on Sunday when security forces raided a Baghdad church to free more than 100 Iraqi Catholics held hostage by al Qaeda-linked gunmen.

    Lieutenant General Hussein Kamal said the gunmen were demanding the release of al Qaeda prisoners in Iraq and Egypt.

    Militants wearing suicide vests and armed with grenades attacked the Iraqi stock exchange and then entered the nearby Our Lady of Deliverance church taking about 120 Christians hostage.

    Iraqi forces stormed the church after a tense hours-long stand-off, freeing the hostages. It is not clear how the hostages died, whether at the hands of the attackers of during the rescue attempt.

    Officials said at least one priest and nine policemen were among the dead. Many of the wounded were women.

    A cryptically worded statement posted on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack.