Violence high on last day of year in Iraq

Violence escalated in Iraq on the last day of 2005, with at least 20 people killed in a series of bombings and shootings. American troops shivering in the cold were entertained by an "American Idol" star as part of year-end celebrations. Gunmen raided a house south of Baghdad, killing five Sunni family members, and a roadside bomb in the capital killed two policemen, officials said. Five members of the Iraqi Islamic party died when a roadside bomb exploded near their headquarters in Al-Khalis, 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of Baqouba, police said. Police also said they found the bodies of six men who had been blindfolded, shot and dumped at a sewage plant in southeast Baghdad. On Saturday, a US soldier died from wounds from a mortar attack in Baghdad, the military said, putting the American military death toll at 842 - four short of 2004's record total despite political progress and dogged US and Iraqi efforts to quash the insurgency. A total of 846 troops died in 2004 and 485 in 2003.