STEVE INSKEEP, host:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.
The news out of Iraq today includes an insurgent operation in Ramadi, the Sunni stronghold west of Baghdad. Witnesses there say dozens of masked gunmen, believed to be members of al-Qaeda in Iraq, attacked the heavily fortified US base in the city along with several government buildings. The assault began early in the day with a sustained mortar and rocket attack. The insurgents also seized control of several streets in the center of the city. Residents said there was no sign of American troops.
Ramadi is the capital of Anbar province, which is considered the heartland of the insurgency, and today's attack is seen as part of an intensified campaign to destabilize Iraq before parliamentary elections later this month. There's also been a new series of kidnappings in Iraq and that raises fears of a repeat of last year's hostage-taking crisis when about 200 foreigners were seized and several killed.
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