1 Nov 2010

Thirty-seven die in hostage-busting raid

9:09 pm on 1 November 2010

At least 37 people have been killed after Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages held by gunmen.

Twenty-five hostages were among the dead, along with seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five of the attackers.

About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for mass.

The gunmen are reported to have demanded the release of jailed al Qaeda fighters.

The hostage-taking at a Christian church has opened a new front in Iraq's complicated and confusing internal conflicts.

Earlier reports said two security guards at the Iraqi stock exchange nearby had been killed before the church was occupied.