Woodruff and his crew had arrived in Baghdad just days earlier to prepare a special news program on the Iraqi conflict to be broadcast after President George Bush's State of the Union address. They were filming in an area outside of Baghdad where rebels have stepped up their attacks against U.S. and Iraq forces. On Jan. 16, rebels in Taji fired a surface-to-air missile shooting down an AH-64 Apache helicopter, killing both of its crewmen.
An experienced foreign correspondent, Woodruff, along with Elizabeth Vargas, was named to replaced the late Peter Jennings as anchor of the network's flagship "World News Tonight". So far, over 60 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, making it the world's most dangerous war zone for newsmen. On Jan 7th, Jill Carroll, an American woman freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor, was kidnapped by a previously unknown rebel group. Her abduction was denounced by Muslim groups here in Iraq and abroad as well as by several insurgent groups.