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Gunmen storm TV station in Baghdad

An employee of a Sunni satellite TV station reacts Thursday at a Baghdad hospital after the death of a colleague in an attack. An employee of a Sunni satellite TV station reacts Thursday at a Baghdad hospital after the death of a colleague in an attack.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Gunmen stormed the offices of a Sunni satellite TV station Thursday in Baghdad, killing nine people, police said.

The attack took place in the eastern neighborhood of Zayuna when the gunmen got out of six cars and barged into the Shaabiya satellite channel.

An official with the station earlier identified five of the dead as station employees and two others as guards. It's unclear who the remaining two were.

The station has not officially opened and has only aired test broadcasts, an official said.

Eight others died Thursday in scattered attacks in the capital.

In central Baghdad's Bab al-Shurqi commercial area, two bombs exploded within 10 minutes of each other, killing five people and wounding 10 others, including three police officers, police said.

Also in central Baghdad, a motorcycle rigged with explosives went off as it targeted a police patrol, killing three people and wounding 15 others. One of the dead and five of the wounded were police officers in the Qahira Square attack.

In northern Baghdad, four civilians were wounded when a bomb exploded near a fuel station.

Separately, Iraqi police officials found 40 bullet-riddled bodies Wednesday in various neighborhoods throughout the capital, all showing signs of torture.

More than 400 bodies have been found in similar condition in Baghdad this month alone. Police suspect the killings are a result of sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Arabs.

U.S. soldiers killed

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday in separate incidents.

One was killed and two others wounded in northern Iraq's Tameem province "as a result of enemy action," according to a military statement Thursday.

The dead soldier was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and is a member of Task Force Lightning, the military said.

The other soldier died when a roadside bomb struck his patrol in central Baghdad, the military said.

There have been 39 U.S. military deaths in October. The number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war stands at 2,746. Seven American military contractors also have been killed in the war.

Army plans current troop levels through 2010

The Army is planning for the possibility that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq at current levels through 2010, the service's chief of staff said Wednesday.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker said conditions could change but told reporters he has to plan for such a scenario so that combat brigades will be ready when needed.

The United States has about 15 combat brigades in Iraq, the equivalent of 140,000 to 145,000 troops. Last month, Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East, said those levels would be maintained through at least next spring due to rising sectarian violence, especially in Baghdad and western Iraq's Anbar province.

President Bush on Wednesday underscored U.S. efforts to help the besieged Iraqi government, saying, "The stakes couldn't be any higher."

"If we were to abandon that country before the Iraqis can defend their young democracy, the terrorists would take control of Iraq and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America," Bush said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

Bush also criticized those Democrats who have urged a time frame be set for U.S. withdrawal.

"When you pull out before the job is done, that's 'cut and run,' as far as I'm concerned," he said. "And that's 'cut and run' as far as most Americans are concerned."

Bush's comments came as Iraq's parliament approved a law allowing the country's 18 provinces to hold referendums on merging with other provinces to create a federal region.

Shiites in the country's south favor the creation of a federal region that would be similar to the Kurdish autonomous region in the north. The Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance backed the legislation.

Sunnis oppose such regions, saying Shiites and Kurds would control the country's oil riches to the detriment of Sunnis -- who do not live in the oil-producing areas of Iraq.

The legislation passed despite the boycott by two top Sunni blocs, a secular party and two smaller Shiite movements.

Study claims nearly 655,000 Iraqi deaths

Nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the war, mostly through violence or deteriorating health and environmental conditions, according to American and Iraqi public health researchers.

They found that since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, "an additional 2.5 percent of Iraq's population have died above what would have occurred without conflict."

At his news conference, Bush slammed the report, saying, "The methodology is pretty well discredited."

He said Gen. George Casey, the top-ranking U.S. military official in Iraq, and Iraqi officials agree the report lacks credibility.

In a statement, an Iraqi government spokesman said the report "has exaggerated and unbelievable figures."

But an author of the survey defended the work, saying it used methodology common in epidemiological studies.

The survey's release coincided with figures from the Iraqi Health Ministry that found that more than 2,660 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad were killed last month, according to The Associated Press.

The figures came in an official monthly report from the Iraqi Health Ministry to the Cabinet, the AP reported, citing two senior Health Ministry officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, the United Nations' humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, said that "blunt, brutal violence" has targeted police, recruits, judges and lawyers, with women increasingly being attacked for so-called honor killings, according to the AP.

"Revenge killing seems to be totally out of control," the AP quoted Egeland as saying.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Barbara Starr and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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