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ABC Anchorman in stable condition after IED explosion


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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were in serious but stable condition Sunday after both were wounded by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, ABC officials said.

"The next few days will be critical. The [u.S.] military plans to evacuate them to their medical facilities in Landstuhl [Germany], probably overnight tonight," an ABC statement said.

Woodruff, 44, and 46-year-old cameraman Doug Vogt were in an Iraqi military vehicle near Taji, about about 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Baghdad, at the time of the explosion, ABC said.

Woodruff and Vogt both suffered head injuries, the network said. Woodruff also suffered shrapnel injuries to his body, and Vogt has a broken shoulder, said ABC, which led its evening newscast with the report.

The two had been embedded with the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division. At the time of the blast, they were traveling with U.S. and Iraqi forces in the lead of an eight-vehicle convoy of U.S. armored Humvees, ABC said.

The network said the men -- wearing helmets and body armor -- were standing, videotaping a log of their trip, in the rear hatch of the vehicle when the bomb was detonated, apparently by a hard-wire connection.

The blast was followed by small-arms fire from three directions, ABC said.

Within 37 minutes of the attack, the men had been taken by helicopter to a combat-support hospital in the capital's heavily fortified Green Zone, the network said.

There, doctors determined the men needed surgery, and they were taken -- again by helicopter -- 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad to the U.S. military hospital in Balad. The hospital is the most technologically advanced in Iraq.

ABC News Producer Kate Felsen said she spoke with both men. "Doug was conscious and I was able to reassure him that I was getting them care," she said. "I spoke to Bob, also."

Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas were named in December to replace the late Peter Jennings as "World News Tonight" anchors. They started earlier this month. Vargas anchored the broadcast Sunday night.

Woodruff, an attorney and former law professor, began in journalism with CBS News as a translator in Beijing, China, during the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. During the initial invasion of Iraq, he was embedded with Marines on the front lines.

Vogt has been with ABC News for 15 years and has covered global hotspots from Bosnia to Gaza to Iran.

The White House has offered to help "in any way we can," said spokesman Trent Duffy.

"It is terrible news and we are praying for full and speedy recovery," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to them."

Reporting from Iraq is a dangerous proposition. According to the organization Reporters Without Borders, 79 journalists and assistants have been killed in the war zone since the United States invaded in March 2003.

The organization said 35 news media workers have been abducted since the war's start, including Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor. She was abducted earlier this month and has not been released. Five of the kidnap victims were killed.

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