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US Condemns Al-Qaeda 'Senseless' Iraqi Church Massacre

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The United States on Monday condemned the Al-Qaeda hostage drama that ended in a bloodbath in a Baghdad church, calling it a "senseless" act of violence.

"The United States strongly condemns this senseless act of hostage taking and violence by terrorists linked to Al-Qaeda in Iraq that occurred Sunday in Baghdad killing so many innocent Iraqis," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs in a statement.

"Our hearts go out to the people of Iraq who have suffered so much from these attacks."

The White House statement added that "the overwhelming majority of Iraqis from all its communities reject violence and we stand with them as we work together to combat terrorism and protect the people of our two nations."

Earlier, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley issued a similar condemnation, adding that "the events that unfolded on Sunday were particularly reprehensible, as a place of worship was specifically involved after a nearby robbery attempt was unsuccessful."

At least 46 Christians were killed during a hostage drama with Al-Qaeda gunmen that ended in an assault by Iraqi forces backed by US troops.

"It was carnage," said Monsignor Pius Kasha, whose Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad was targeted by the militants. Witnesses said the assailants were armed with automatic rifles and suicide belts.

American soldiers dressed in combat gear also took part in the assault, some witnesses said, an assertion denied by the US military and the Iraqis.

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