Skip to comments.Army Probes Death of Reporter in Iraq - US Troops Gun Down Reuters Reporter
Posted on 08/18/2003 6:43:36 AM PDT by bedolido
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Army acknowledged Monday that it had killed a television journalist after soldiers mistook his camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Meanwhile, efforts to rebuild Iraq (news - web sites) were set back over the weekend with explosions on the country's lifeblood oil pipelines and the capital's water supply.
The water main in Baghdad was bombed Sunday as two fires raged out of control along an oil pipeline to Turkey, halting exports just days after they started. The army said the first fire was started by someone who ignited oil leaking from a burst pipe, but might not have been sabotage backing off earlier claims that it was intentional.
"A section of the pipeline was faulty," 4th Infantry Division spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle said. "Someone then set fire to the oil leak." Aberle had no information on the second pipeline fire. Others in the military in Baghdad and American civilian administration officials have said flatly that the fires were sabotage.
A new group of resistance fighters vowed Sunday to battle the U.S. -led occupation whether or not it helps rebuild the country. In new violence, a mortar attack on a Baghdad prison being used by the United States killed six Iraqis and injured about 60.
Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, 41, of the West Bank town of Hebron, was videotaping outside the prison hours after the attack when U.S. soldiers shot him. He was the 17th news organization employee to be killed since the war began.
The videotape in Dana's camera showed two U.S. tanks coming toward him. Shots were fired, apparently from the tanks, and Dana fell to the ground. His body was taken away by a U.S. helicopter.
"We saw a tank 50 meters away, I heard six shots and Mazen fell to the ground," Dana's driver Munzer Abbas said.
One of the soldiers started shouting at us, but when he knew we were journalists, he softened. One of the soldiers told us they thought Mazen carrying a rocket-propelled grenade."
"There were many journalists around. They knew we were journalists. This was not an accident," Abbas said.
A U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity that American soldiers saw Dana from a distance and mistook him for an Iraqi guerrilla, so they opened fire. When the soldiers came closer, they realized Dana was a journalist, the official said.
"This is clearly another tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable," Central Command spokesman Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson said.
Stephen Jukes, Reuters' global head of news, said, "Mazen was one of Reuters' finest cameramen and we are devastated by his loss."
Sunday's explosion in northern Baghdad blew a hole in a 5-foot-diameter water main, flooding streets. People waded through chest-high water in some areas. Witnesses said two men on a motorbike left a bag of explosives and detonated it minutes later.
"It was an act of sabotage," said Majid Noufel, a Baghdad water company engineer. "We've had to stop pumping water to the whole city so we can fix the damage."
Residents, finding their taps dry, rushed to buy bottled water but many stores ran out.
"I couldn't find any water to wash the clothes," lamented housewife Amira Ali, 46. "The next few days we're really going to suffer."
A new group of resistance fighters, the Iraqi National Islamic Resistance Movement, said in a videotaped aired on the Al-Jazeera television network that they would battle the occupying troops even if the U.S.-led coalition helps Iraq recover from war.
"This resistance is not a reaction to the American provocations against the Iraqi people or to the shortage of services, as some analysts believe ... but to kick out the occupiers as a matter of principle," a man read from a statement.
He sat with several other men holding grenade launchers and Kalashnikov automatic rifles. All had their faces covered with checkered headscarves.
The motivation for the attack on the prison was unclear. Abu Ghraib, where Saddam's regime executed political prisoners and others, is being used by Iraq's U.S. occupiers to house high-security criminals. U.S. troops at and near the prison have been attacked in past months.
Further north, the two oil blazes, which were a few miles apart, raged out of control along the 600-mile pipeline exporting Iraq's oil to Turkey.
The first fire began Friday, only two days after oil exports to Turkey resumed, and the second started Saturday night. The fires were 125 miles northwest of Baghdad.
Local police commander Brig. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim contradicted Aberle's claims that it might not have been sabotage. He vowed to pursue "a group of conspirators who received money from a particular party" to blow up the pipeline.
Iraqi firefighters watched helplessly as thick, black smoke billowed a quarter-mile into the air in the Shrikat District. Their supervisor said fires along the northern pipeline rarely occurred more than once a year. Two major fires in two days was "unheard of and very mysterious," supervisor Abdul Khaliq Akrum Fatah (news - web sites).
Iraq has the world's second-largest proven crude reserves, at 112 billion barrels, but its pipelines, pumping stations and oil reservoirs are dilapidated after more than a decade of neglect. Northern Iraq, site of the giant Kirkuk oil fields, accounts for 40 percent of Iraq's oil production.
Two soldiers were wounded when guerrillas attacked their convoy with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire about eight miles east of Tikrit, 4th Infantry spokesman Lt. Col. William MacDonald said. The soldiers were in stable condition.
U.S. troops killed two Iraqis in two separate incidents late Sunday, MacDonald said. In the first, soldiers shot dead a looter southeast of Tikrit after he disregarded warning shots. Another Iraqi was shot and died when his car ran a checkpoint north of Baghdad.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub, Jamie Tarabay and D'Arcy Doran in Baghdad, Hrovje Hranjski in Tikrit, Andrew England in Baqouba, contributed to this report.
Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana films in the West Bank city of Hebron, October 18, 2001. Dana was shot dead August 17, 2003 while working near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad, witnesses said. A spokesman for Iraq (news - web sites) 's U.S.-led administration confirmed a journalist had been killed and said an investigation was under way. Photo by Nayef Hashlamoun/Reuters
Memo to Reuters: One Mand's Journalist Is Another Man's Legitimate Target.
So they're saying the photographer was murdered? That camera looks close enough to be a RPG. The soldier did his job. I'd do the same.
Gunner did the right thing.
That's the talking points I got from left wing radical radio (several stations). Even a representative for the reporters in Iraq claimed that they were being "targeted". When asked for clarification if this meant that journalists were being shot deliberately, the man backed off slightly and said that those in charge should have better control.
Safety come first. Safety for our troops...
Even among our troops there are incidents of friendly fire. A tragedy when it happens but rarely is it deliberate (of course the left has forgotten about the muslim American recruit who threw a grenade in a tent).