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The Deacon's Bench

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A dramatic standoff in an Iraqi Catholic church has come to a violent end.

Details:

At least seven Iraqi Christian worshipers and seven Iraqi security forces were killed Sunday night after commandos stormed a church in Baghdad where a band of suicide bombers had been holding parishioners hostage, Iraqi and U.S. military officials said.

As Iraqi troops stormed the Our Lady of Salvation Church in the upscale Karradah neighborhood shortly after 9 p.m., some of the assailants detonated suicide vests, said Lt. Col. Eric Bloom, a U.S. military spokesman.

The mayhem underscored how dangerous the Iraqi capital remains as a deepening political crisis continues. Iraqi lawmakers remain at an impasse over who is entitled to lead the next government after the March 7 parliamentary election. Many Iraqis fear that the impasse could sow instability and violence as the U.S. military mission here winds down.

Between 20 to 30 people were wounded in the attack and subsequent rescue operation to free the approximately 120 hostages attending evening Mass, Bloom said. He said all the attackers were gunned down, but an Iraqi official said some were in custody.

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