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BLOODY PROTEST: An Iraqi
protester shows his blood-stained shirt after US
troops killed two people in Baghdad
US troops kill two Iraqi protesters 19 June 2003
BAGHDAD: A US soldier has fired into a crowd of
Iraqi protesters outside the headquarters of the US-led
administration in Baghdad, killing two people.
The shooting occurred when a US military
convoy passed through a crowd led by up to 2000 former Iraqi
soldiers who were protesting at their having been sacked by
the new US administration.
"There is no god but Allah, America is
the enemy of Allah," the crowd chanted in the fierce midday
heat. "Down, down USA."
US military officials said a US soldier
had fired in self-defence after the convoy was pelted with
rocks and two Iraqis were injured and later died.
"Both men who were evacuated died of
their wounds," Lieutenant Colonel Richard Douglas said. The
complex is the former palace of toppled Iraqi President Saddam
The sacked Iraqi soldiers were
disgruntled over losing their jobs when US administrator Paul
Bremer dissolved Saddam's armed forces last month.
Bremer's drive to destroy the legacy of
Saddam's Baathist rule has laid off up to 400,000 Iraqis who
worked in the now-disbanded armed forces, security services
and information and defence ministries, with no prospect of
"We were in a peaceful demonstration
asking the US to give us our salaries," Abdul-Rahim Hassan, a
former soldier, told Reuters. "We were not fighting them, but
suddenly they started shooting at us."
US Army Captain Scott Nauman, whose men
were guarding the compound, told CNN television that Iraqis on
the other side of the street had been throwing rocks for
nearly an hour before the shooting, but no one had been hurt
until the convoy arrived.
"The personnel (Iraqis) on the other side
of the street swarmed the convoy, shaking the vehicles,
breaking out windows, throwing rocks at extremely close range
to the personnel in that convoy.
"(They) felt threatened understandably as
their vehicle was swarmed and windows broken out and they
fired shots then directly into the crowd and injured two
personnel...To me it appeared to be in self-defence."
The captain said his men had fired
warning shots over the crowd at the same time.
Asked if there had been shooting from the
crowd, he replied: "No, not to my knowledge."
Before the shooting the demonstrators had
beaten passing United Nations and television vehicles with
their shoes and assaulted a Reuters television crew and other
Critics say the sweeping policy of
sacking the soldiers fails to distinguish between the hard men
who enforced Saddam's cruel orders, the many who joined the
party out of expediency and some who genuinely believed in its
Arab nationalist ideology.
They say the policy has created a large
pool of armed and resentful unemployed who may turn to crime
or to fighting the US-led occupation, perhaps as part of a
Nauman said the demonstration was the
fourth by Iraqi soldiers in the past few weeks and that
officials had set up a meeting with some of the protesters for
later on Wednesday.
At least 41 American soldiers have been
killed in a spate of attacks in and around Baghdad since US
President George W Bush declared major combat in Iraq over in
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