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Militants kill five journalists in Iraq

Tikrit: Suicide bombers assaulted an Iraqi television station headquarters, killing five journalists, the latest in a series of attacks against the media.

At least 17 more people were killed in other violence, including four officers who died when mortar rounds struck a military base.

And the defence ministry announced that Iraqi forces destroyed two militant camps, with officials saying the civil war in neighboring Syria was driving the violence.

The dead from the attack on Salaheddin television in Tikrit, north of Baghdad, were the chief news editor, a copy editor, a producer, a presenter and the archives manager, the police officers said, while five of the channel's employees were wounded.

Two of the bombers blew themselves up during the attack, and security forces killed the other two when they stormed the building.

Last week, militants attacked the Tikrit city council headquarters, killing a council member and two police. Iraq has come in for repeated criticism over the lack of media freedom and the number of unsolved killings of journalists.

The country is experiencing the worst violence against journalists in years, with 12 killed in attacks since October 5.

Protests broke out late last year in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq, where people complain of being both marginalised by the Shia-led government and unjustly targeted by heavy-handed security measures.

Experts say widespread Sunni anger has been a major factor in the heightened unrest this year.

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

The number of deaths surged after security forces raided an anti-government protest site near the northern town of Hawijah on April 23, sparking clashes in which dozens died.

More than 6,650 people have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of the year.



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