A wave of Christmas Day shootings and bombings in Iraq left at least 20 Iraqis killed, as U.S. President George W. Bush thanked American soldiers for their sacrifice and for protecting America.
In Baghdad, rescuers lifted blackened corpses from the ruins of a Christmas Eve suicide truck bombing that killed eight people.
Five Iraqis, including a woman, were killed and another five wounded when a makeshift bomb exploded on a road frequented by U.S. convoys in the volatile bastion of Samarra, said police.
To the south, three Iraqis were killed in another deadly bombing between Najaf and Karbala.
A doctor at a clinic in Khan al-Nus, north of Najaf, said three Iraqis died and two were wounded when a car bomb exploded in the path of a U.S. military convoy, which escaped unscathed.
In a clutch of targeted assassinations, an Iraqi working as an interpreter for the U.S. military and his wife were shot dead by gunmen near the northern city of Mosul - their bodies riddled with 30 bullet holes, said police.
Meanwhile, just north of Baghdad, gunmen mowed down a local council member and his friend, while another man died when the bomb he was planting on the side of a road near Balad exploded prematurely, AFP cited police as saying.
As millions across the world celebrated Christmas, the U.S. president thanked American forces fighting in Iraq and other hotspots for their sacrifice.
"In Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, these skilled and courageous Americans are fighting the enemies of freedom and protecting our country from danger.
"By bringing liberty to the oppressed, our troops are helping to win the war on terror, and they are defending the freedom and security of us all," said Bush, who relaxed at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.