Two More Protesters Killed in Iraqi Town
Go 0ato Original
Two More Protesters Killed in Iraqi Town
By Charles J. 0aHanley
Wednesday 30 April 2003
FALLUJAH, Iraq - U.S. troops opened fire on anti-American demonstrators 0afor the second time this week as Iraqis marched Wednesday to protest the 0aprevious shooting. The city's mayor said two people were killed and 14 wounded 0ain the clash.
U.S. Central Command said soldiers in a convoy passing the 0ademonstrators were shot at, and then returned fire. But city officials who 0awitnessed the incident said they saw or heard no shooting from among the 0aprotesters.
There was no immediate indication of American casualties.
The gunfire came less than 48 hours after a shooting during a 0ademonstration Monday night that hospital officials said killed 13 Iraqis.
The clashes in Fallujah, a conservative Sunni Muslim city and Baath 0aParty stronghold 30 miles west of Baghdad, reflect the area's increasing 0atensions as American troops try to keep the peace in Iraq.
About 1,000 residents marching down Fallujah's main street stopped 0aWednesday in front of a battalion headquarters of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne 0aDivision, in a compound formerly occupied by Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. The 0ademonstrators carried signs condemning Monday night's shooting.
This was no peaceful demonstration, the Americans insisted. They said 0aprotesters threw rocks and shoes; Maj. Michael Marti, an intelligence officer 0afor the division's 2nd Brigade, said a vehicle window was broken by what was 0abelieved to be automatic weapons fire.
Lt. Col. Tobin Green, commander of the 2nd squadron of the 3rd Armored 0aCavalry Regiment, which is taking over from the 82nd Airborne in Fallujah, said 0aa six-vehicle convoy was shot at and responded with gunfire.
"The evildoers are deliberately placing at risk the good civilians. 0aThese are deliberate actions by the enemy to use the population as cover," said 0aGreen.
U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said American forces fired in 0aresponse to rock-throwing and weapons fire.
"The convoy returned fire, and the crowd was dispersed by the arrival 0aof coalition helicopters," said Capt. Stewart Upton, a Central Command 0aspokesman.
Fallujah Mayor Taha Bedaiwi al-Alwani said two people were killed and 0a14 wounded and asked for an investigation and compensation for victims.
After a meeting Wednesday with U.S. troops, the mayor said U.S. 0asoldiers have been asked to stay away from mosques, residential areas and other 0asensitive places. The Americans agreed to study the request.
"Many people believe these are occupying forces. And many of them are 0astill cautious until they see their intentions," said al-Alwani, a former Iraqi 0aexile and opponent of the previous regime.
U.S. Apache attack helicopters circled the site throughout the march 0aand for hours afterward, barely skimming the tops of the tiled-roof minarets of 0aFallujah, known as "the city of mosques."
U.S. officers met with the mayor and leading area sheiks in hopes of 0areducing the tensions, while several dozen demonstrators clustered angrily 0aoutside the town hall.
"Get out, get out!" one protester shouted at soldiers 0aguarding the meeting.
"We will keep this up, we will keep them on edge," said another 0aprotester, 29-year-old Abdul Adim Mohammed Hussein.
Emerging from the meeting, the imam of the Grand Fallujah Mosque, Jamal 0aShaqir Mahmood, said "The Americans said 'we won't reduce the numbers, they're 0aneeded for security.' But the people of Fallujah told them we already have 0asecurity."
During Saddam's rule, Fallujah was a stronghold of the ruling Baath 0aParty, in part because of the presence of key chemical and other factories of 0athe regime's military-industrial complex that provided jobs to workers and 0agenerated wealth to local businessmen.
Fallujah sent many of its young men to elite regime units such as the 0aRepublican Guard and Special Republican Guard, and the fall of Saddam threatens 0athe city's network of privilege and power.
The American forces have given no indication they might cut back their 0apresence here. However, U.S. forces did leave their station at the school where 0aMonday's shooting took place.
From the back of a pickup truck, Jamal addressed a crowd of 250 people 0aWednesday.
"We demand the Americans leave this place," Jamal said. "(But) please 0adon't confront the U.S. troops."
As they did after Wednesday's incident, Americans and Iraqis have given 0asharply differing accounts of Monday night's shooting. Paratroopers from the 0a82nd Airborne said they opened fire only upon armed men - about 25 infiltrators 0aamong a crowd of 200. Protesters insisted their demonstration was unarmed and 0apeaceful.
Dr. Ahmed Ghandim al-Ali, director of Fallujah's general hospital, said 0athe clash Monday killed 13 Iraqis - including three young boys - and injured 0aabout 75. Some residents put the death toll higher, at 15.
No Americans were injured.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)
All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.