U.S. forces wound 4 in unprovoked shooting in Iraq

American military apologizes

3 soldiers killed by roadside bomb

November 19, 2007|By Doug Smith and Saif Hameed | Doug Smith and Saif Hameed,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD -- Officials in the southern city of Samawah said a U.S. Army convoy opened fire yesterday in an unprovoked attack on motorists who were trying to get out of its way, injuring four and destroying a truckload of sheep.

North of Baghdad in Baquba, three U.S. soldiers were killed yesterday in a suicide bombing. The military released no further details, but witnesses in the city, where American troops had lengthy summer battles with insurgents, said there appeared to be military casualties when a roadside bomb exploded near a group of children clustered around soldiers on foot patrol. Three children were killed and seven other youngsters wounded in the incident.

The U.S. military apologized for the Samawah incident, saying in a statement that two civilians were killed and four injured. Local officials said there were no deaths.

The incidents came on a day when Iraq was rattled by insurgent attacks against military targets, police and a public official, leaving at least 20 dead.

After the Samawah shooting, Muthanna province Gov. Ahmed Marzouq said he could not understand the behavior of the U.S. forces who, he said, had acted inhumanely in firing on motorists who posed no threat and setting the truck full of sheep ablaze.

"Usually, they open fire when the get attacked or when in danger; however, the zones they passed through were safe," Marzouq said.

He accused the soldiers of violating protocols laid down when the southern province took over responsibility for its security in July 2006, having entered without notifying local officials.

In response, Marzouq said, the province council quickly suspended construction projects being carried out by the military as well as by two nongovernmental organizations.

"We'll continue this until there is a fair investigation, an official apology and compensation for the victims," he said.

The U.S. military statement said, "The coalition forces will work closely with the families, tribal and government leaders in Muthanna to convey our deep regret and ensure the families of those killed, and those who were injured, are properly cared for."

Police and eyewitnesses said the convoy of five Humvees was on the highway from Samawah, 150 miles south of Baghdad, headed toward Rumaitha when the shooting began.

The injured included two police officers, who were reported in critical condition. They were among those assigned to guard Muthanna council member Mohammed Hassouni, who was not with them. Samawah police Chief Kadhim Abu Hail said his men showed restraint in not firing back, to avoid further casualties. One of the injured, Emira Kshaish, 40, said she was hit by three bullets in the leg.

Raji Allawi, treated at a hospital for wounds to the chest and abdomen, said his car was not moving when he was shot.

In the capital city, a car bomb targeting an undersecretary in the Ministry of Finance exploded just after 5 p.m., killing 10 bystanders and injuring 21 people at Hurriya Square in the Karrada district, police said. Two of the injured were guards of the undersecretary, one of four in the ministry, who was traveling in a convoy, a source in the Rusafa police said. The name of the undersecretary, who was not injured in the blast, was not disclosed.

An Iraqi police convoy was targeted with a car bomb in the northern city of Mosul, killing three civilians and injuring 15, including five policemen, police said.

During a news briefing in the Green Zone, Rear Adm. Greg Smith said that the militant group al-Qaida in Iraq, although seriously disrupted by the U.S. military buildup this year, is likely to rebuild.

"We are still in a fight with an enemy that is determined and has the capacity to conduct barbaric attacks," Smith said. "Unfortunately, we are reminded of this daily."

Doug Smith and Saif Hameed write for the Los Angeles Times.

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