Iraqi Insurgents Attack Provincial Council In the Iraqi town of Tikrit Tuesday, gunmen attacked the provincial council headquarters, taking hostages and setting off a battle that raged for hours. By the time it was over, some 50 people had been killed. Melissa Block speaks with NPR's Mike Shuster, who joins us from Baghdad.
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Iraqi Insurgents Attack Provincial Council

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Iraqi Insurgents Attack Provincial Council

Iraqi Insurgents Attack Provincial Council

Iraqi Insurgents Attack Provincial Council

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In the Iraqi town of Tikrit Tuesday, gunmen attacked the provincial council headquarters, taking hostages and setting off a battle that raged for hours. By the time it was over, some 50 people had been killed. Melissa Block speaks with NPR's Mike Shuster, who joins us from Baghdad.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Fromm NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

And, Mike, why don't you tell us more of what you've learned about this attack, how it played out.

MIKE SHUSTER: When they were inside, then they took hostages. Initially it was reported that only a few hostages were taken. But after the whole thing ended it turned out there were many more hostages than that.

BLOCK: Now, this was a regular Tuesday meeting of the provincial council in Tikrit. What do you know about what kind of security would've been in place?

SHUSTER: Then they detonated several suicide bomb belts and all the gunmen were believed to have died. And among the dead was one of local Iraqi journalist who worked for Reuters and Arabiya satellite TV channel.

BLOCK: And has there been any claim of responsibility for this attack?

SHUSTER: There was also a jailbreak in Tikrit recently. And insurgents from these groups broke out of jail, and it's believed that at least one of the gunmen was among those who recently was part of that jailbreak.

BLOCK: Put this attack, if you could, into a bit of context for us, Mike, in terms of the level of violence right now in Iraq.

SHUSTER: There hasn't been an attack like this, with this level of violence since last October, when gunmen attacked a Catholic church in Baghdad and more than 60 people died. There are regular attacks in Iraq but they are at a very low level now. It feels much safer to be out on the street. But then, every now and then something like this or a series of bomb attacks occurs, and it makes it clear there are still people want to really wreak havoc in Iraq out there.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Mike Shuster talking about the attack today on the provincial council building in Tikrit, Iraq. Mike, thanks very much.

SHUSTER: You're welcome, Melissa.

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