Anger As US Kills Unarmed Protesters
- ANGER RISES AFTER U.S. TROOPS KILL 13 IRAQIS
Edmund Blair, Reuters, 4/29/03
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - U.S. troops shot dead at least 13 Iraqis
and wounded 75 when protesters marched on a school the soldiers have
occupied and demanded they get out of Iraq, doctors and witnesses
Residents said the troops shot at unarmed protesters but the U.S.
military said its soldiers had merely retaliated after coming under
fire when the crowd of about 200 people approached the school in
Falluja, 30 miles west of Baghdad.
A company -- 100 or so soldiers -- from the 82nd Airborne Division
were using the school as a barracks, officers said.
The shooting outraged local people who welcomed the removal of the
hated Saddam Hussein by U.S.-led forces but now want the American
forces to leave. Coming on top of other incidents, it may fuel anti-
American sentiment elsewhere in Iraq.
"They are stealing our oil and they are slaughtering our people,"
said Shuker Abdullah Hamid, a cousin of one of the victims, venting
the fury felt by many residents.
U.S. helicopters hovered overhead as angry mourners buried the dead
Tuesday. The white walls of houses near the school were pock-marked
by bullets, bullet-riddled and wrecked cars stood by the roadside and
traces of blood marked the ground.
Soldiers inside the school, braced for trouble from Saddam loyalists
on the dictator's birthday, seemed to have unleashed a hail of heavy
fire on the crowd in the darkened street outside in response to what
officers said was incoming rifle fire.
"Our soul and our blood we will sacrifice to you martyrs," hundreds
of mourners chanted as they carried at least four simple wooden
coffins shoulder-high through the town.
Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali, director of Falluja general hospital, said at
least 13 people had been killed. His staff had treated 75 wounded,
mostly hit by bullets or shrapnel
A local Sunni Muslim cleric, Kamal Shaker Mahmoud, said the
protesters had asked the troops to leave the school so that lessons
could resume there now the war is over.
"It was a peaceful demonstration. They did not have any weapons," he
said. "We are asking the Americans to leave Iraq."
Murhij Rashid, 52, pointed to a grave where gravediggers were
throwing dry earth on top and kicking up dust. His 18-year-old son
Hussein had just been buried.
"There was a demonstration but he did not have any weapon," he said.
Some residents said some of the dead may not have been taking part in
the protest. Salah Abdullah Hamid said his 36-year-old cousin was an
"He was not part of the protest. He did not have a weapon. He was
killed by American bullets," he said.
Asked why the troops had fired, he replied: "We don't know. No one
knows why...We want the Americans to leave our country completely. We
are a Muslim country."
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