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Qaeda-led group claims killing of Iraq TV editor

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DUBAI, March 12 (Reuters) - An Iraqi militant group affiliated to al Qaeda said today it was behind yesterday's killing of a senior editor for Iraq's state television, said a statement posted on the Internet.

''Your brothers in the military wing of the Mujahideen Council assassinated yesterday Amjad Hameed, the editor of Iraqiya ... which always broadcasts lies about jihad (holy war) to satisfy crusader masters,'' said a statement posted on the Internet and attributed to the group.

It said the station was ''the mouthpiece of the apostate overnment''.

Iraqiya's editorial stance is close to the Shi'ite-led government.

The authenticity of the statement could not be verified but it was posted on a Web site often used by militant groups.

Gunmen assassinated Hameed along with his driver as they headed to work in Baghdad. He was the second Iraqi journalist to be killed in a week.

Iraqiya said Hameed, a father of three, had just left his house in central Baghdad when a car blocked his way and gunmen shot him in the head.

The assassination drew wide condemnation and renewed calls for journalists to be allowed to carry firearms for protection.

More than 70 foreign and Iraqi journalists have been reported killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Last July, Khalid al-Attar, an Al-Iraqiya television journalist, was killed after being abducted by gunmen in the northern city of Mosul.

Munsuf Abdallah al-Khalidi, a presenter on the Baghdad Television channel run by Iraq's largest Sunni Arab political party, was shot dead on Tuesday.

REUTERS KD VC2132

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