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Hotel hit 'deliberate': French TV

FOOTAGE filmed by France 3 television of a strike on a hotel which killed two journalists in Baghdad today shows a US tank targeting the journalists' hotel and waiting at least two minutes before firing.

The journalist and film editor who filmed the attack, Herve de Ploeg, who filmed the attack, said: "I did not hear any shots in the direction of the tank, which was stationed at the west entrance of the Al-Jumhuriya (Republic) bridge, 600 metres north-west of the hotel.

The tank's turret is seen moving toward the Palestine Hotel, where foreign reporters have set up shop, and the gun carriage lifting and waiting at least two minutes before opening up.

The French TV channel had positioned two cameras in two rooms facing the bridge as of 6.30am (11.30pm AEST).

"It had been very quiet for a moment. There was no shooting at all. Then I saw the turret turning in our direction and the carriage lifting. It faced the target," said De Ploeg.


"It was not a case of instinctive firing," he said. The firing took place at 11.59am (5.59pm AEST), said France 3 reporter Caroline Sinz.

"I'm very specific because I was due to go on air," she explained.

The incident killed a cameraman for the Telecinco Spanish television station and another for the British news agency Reuters. Three Reuters staffers were also wounded.

The Spanish cameraman was named as Jose Couso, 37. The Reuters cameraman was named as Ukrainian Taras Protsyuk, 35.

A US commander said the tank fired a single round at the hotel.

"The tank was receiving fire from the hotel, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) and small-arms fire, and engaged with one tank round. The firing stopped," said General Buford Blount, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, speaking at Baghdad's international airport.

A reporter for the Arab satellite television Al-Jazeera died earlier today and a cameraman was injured after the station's offices in Baghdad were hit in a separate attack that the Qatar-based channel charged was a deliberate US strike.


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