Iraq: US troops again fire on crowd
- US troops again fire on crowd, four killed: Iraqis demand real freedom
MOSUL, April 16: At least four people were killed and several others
wounded on Wednesday by gunshots near the governorate buildings in the
northern Iraqi city of Mosul , the second such incident here in two
days, a hospital official and witnesses said.
Several witnesses told AFP US troops fired on a crowd from the
rooftops of the buildings, but that was denied by a US marine officer
here. However US forces admitted partial responsibility for Tuesday's
incidents after initially denying it.
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at US Central Command's war base in
Qatar said on Wednesday that the previous day "fire was indeed
delivered from coalition forces; it was lethal fire, and some Iraqis
were killed as a result. We think the number is in the order of seven
and we think there were some wounded as well."
Hospital sources for their part put the death toll at 15 with 28
wounded, from an earlier figure of 12 killed and 60 wounded.
On Wednesday, an AFP journalist saw two bodies arrive at Al-Zahrawi
hospital, where a doctor said eight people were also wounded. "Four
bodies have just been brought in," Dr Riyadh Hamdi said.
Witnesses told AFP US troops stationed on top of the government
buildings had opened fire.
In response, Captain James Jarvis told AFP "there was no firing on the
crowd today." Someone "started shooting on our marines; we
subsequently returned fire. We were engaged by two roof-top locations.
We were fired upon and took well aimed fire". He added that three
local policemen were wounded in the shooting.
In Baghdad scores of Iraqi Shia shouted their rejection of the US
military presence in front of American marines deployed around
Baghdad's Palestine Hotel on Wednesday.
"Down with America," chanted the 200-odd protesters led by religious
leaders. "We want real freedom" and "The Iraqi people themselves must
choose their rulers," read two of the banners raised by the protesters.
Marines kept reporters at bay.
The protesters had their backs to Al-Fardus Square where a giant
statue of former president Saddam Hussein was toppled after US forces
seized Baghdad a week ago, symbolizing the end of the Iraqi leader's
In a separate incident on Wednesday, an Iraqi police officer said his
men had intervened in a bank raid when the Americans started shooting.
"A police patrol went to the bank to arrest the robbers. They fired a
shot into the air and then the Americans, with the peshmergas (Kurdish
fighters), fired on the civilians and the robbers," said Farsy Hasham,
who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident.
Three policemen were injured, the officer in charge said. One of them,
21-year-old Mohammed Azad, said "the police fired in the air to scare
the robbers, later there were shots fired blindly at us from the
governorate building," where the US troops were posted.
Another eyewitness, a civil servant who was driving police in his own
car at the time, said: "The police knew there were robbers inside the
bank. When they went in they arrested one robber but the other two got
away. "Outside, a crowd gathered to see what was happening and
followed the police who were taking the robber towards the governorate.
"The Americans saw the crowd and started firing blind. I saw them with
my own eyes. There were inside the building and on the roof. They did
not let us take the injured," said Makhmud Ahmed, 31.
He said the bank was 500 metres from the local government building and
the crowd was 100 metres away.
Yunes Yassin, a 28-year-old workman, interviewed separately, told a
similar story of how the American troops opened fire, apparently
thinking they were coming under attack. "The police learned there was
a bank robbery in progress and sent a patrol.
"Three cars arrived on the scene and the policemen entered the bank. A
crowd had gathered in the square outside to watch when the shooting
started, coming from the government building. I saw an American on the
roof firing a machine gun."
Omar Hassan, a 39-year-old civil servant, also said the shots came
"from the roof of the government building where the Americans were".
Captain Jarvis said only: "We didn't return fire with regard to the
A US marine officer denied charges that his troops opened fire on
Wednesday on a crowd of people in this northern Iraqi city in an
incident that a hospital official and witnesses say claimed four
lives. He also denied US involvement in a second incident on
Wednesday, involving an abortive bank robbery.-AFP
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