- MOSUL, Iraq -- At least four
people were killed and several others wounded Wednesday by gunshots near
the governorate buildings in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the second
such incident here in two days, a hospital official and witnesses said.
- Several witnesses told AFP US troops fired on a crowd
from the rooftops of the buildings, but that was denied by a US marine
officer here. However US forces admitted partial responsibility for Tuesday's
incidents after initially denying it.
- Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at US Central Command's
war base in Qatar said on Wednesday that the previous day "fire was
indeed delivered from coalition forces; it was lethal fire, and some Iraqis
were killed as a result. We think the number is in the order of seven and
we think there were some wounded as well."
- Hospital sources for their part put the death toll at
15 with 28 wounded, from an earlier figure of 12 killed and 60 wounded.
- On Wednesday, an AFP journalist saw two bodies arrive
at Al-Zahrawi hospital, where a doctor said eight people were also wounded.
"Four bodies have just been brought in," Dr Riyadh Hamdi said.
- Witnesses told AFP US troops stationed on top of the
government buildings had opened fire.
- In response, Captain James Jarvis told AFP "there
was no firing on the crowd today."
- Well-aimed fire
- Someone "started shooting on our marines; we subsequently
returned fire. We were engaged by two rooftop locations. We were fired
upon and took well-aimed fire".
- He added that three local policemen were wounded in the
- In a separate incident on Wednesday, an Iraqi police
officer said his men had intervened in a bank raid when the Americans started
- "A police patrol went to the bank to arrest the
robbers. They fired a shot into the air and then the Americans, with the
peshmergas (Kurdish fighters), fired on the civilians and the robbers,"
said Farsy Hasham, who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident.
- Three policemen were injured, the officer in charge said.
- One of them, 21-year-old Mohammed Azad, said "the
police fired in the air to scare the robbers, later there were shots fired
blindly at us from the governorate building," where the US troops
- Another witness, a civil servant who was driving police
in his own car at the time, said: "The police knew there were robbers
inside the bank. When they went in they arrested one robber but the other
two got away.
- "Outside, a crowd gathered to see what was happening
and followed the police who were taking the robber towards the governorate.
- Firing blind
- "The Americans saw the crowd and started firing
blind. I saw them with my own eyes. There were inside the building and
on the roof. They did not let us take the injured," said Makhmud Ahmed,
- He said the bank was 500m from the local government building
and the crowd was 100m away.
- Yunes Yassin, a 28-year-old workman, interviewed separately,
told a similar story of how the American troops opened fire, apparently
thinking they were coming under attack.
- "The police learned there was a bank robbery in
progress and sent a patrol.
- "Three cars arrived on the scene and the policemen
entered the bank. A crowd had gathered in the square outside to watch when
the shooting started, coming from the government building. I saw an American
on the roof firing a machine gun."
- Omar Hassan, a 39-year-old civil servant, also said the
shots came "from the roof of the government building where the Americans
- Catpain Jarvis said only: "We didn't return fire
with regard to the bank robbery."
- On Tuesday witnesses had claimed US troops fired shots
as the crowd became increasingly hostile towards the new governor, Mashaan
al-Juburi, who was making a speech they deemed too supportive of the United
- Agitated crowd
- But Brooks made no mention of the governor, saying an
agitated crowd had gathered at a former government compound US forces had
selected for use as a regional co-ordinating centre, "throwing rocks
at the marines, hitting them with elbows, hitting them with fists and spitting
on them as they entered the complex."
- Later an ambulance fitted out with loudspeakers arrived
and "incensed the crowd," said Brooks, adding that a coalition
vehicle with loudspeakers was at the same time trying to calm the demonstrators,
who had begun to set civilian vehicles on fire.
- US forces "observed men with weapons in and amongst
the crowd who were firing in the air... Warning shots were fired by coalition
forces into a field beyond where the crowd was forming," said Brooks.
- "Thereafter fire was directed at the marines and
special forces in the complex. It was aimed fire and aimed fire was then
returned against some of the demonstrators, some of the agitated persons
who were now climbing over the wall of the compound," the general
- "The attacking was occurring from two sides and
there was clear observation of men with weapons involved firing on the
building during that time," said Brooks.
- He said an investigation was continuing.