19 Iraqis killed by insurgents on first day of Saddam's trial

Sunni-led insurgents killed 19 people in Iraq on Wednesday, the opening day of Saddam Hussein's trial, including six Shiites who were lined up at a factory and gunned down in front of their fellow workers, police said.

The day's fatalities also included three election commission officials who were shot and killed on the outskirts of the capital in Abu Ghraib, as they drove home after another round of counting ballots from last weekend's constitutional referendum, police said.

Iraqis are still awaiting the outcome of last weekend's constitutional referendum, as the slower than expected vote counting continued. Questions about the integrity of the vote and delays in getting marked ballots to the capital mean final results from the landmark referendum won't be announced until Friday at the earliest, officials said.

An argumentative Saddam and seven senior members of his regime went on trial Wednesday for a 1982 massacre of about 150 Shiites in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad. He immediately challenged the legitimacy of the court and pleaded innocent to all charges. The judge later adjourned the session until Nov. 28, the AP reports.

A bomb also went off at a famous monument in a Baghdad square honoring the 8th-century founder of Baghdad to whom Saddam had often compared himself. The blast, which toppled the bust of Abu Jaafar Al-Mansour but caused no injuries, appeared to be a jab at the former dictator. A.M.