US troops kill 13 Iraqi demonstrators
"United States troops have killed up to 13 Iraqi demonstrators west of Baghdad, with conflicting accounts of who fired first.
US officers say they fired in self-defence while witnesses in Falluja say the troops opened fire on several hundred unarmed demonstrators.
The Iraqis had been demanding the soldiers vacate a school they were using as a barracks.
The tactful choice of building for setting up a field office is second only to Jolly Jay Garner choosing to ensconce himself in one of Saddam's palaces.
Falluja hospital director Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali says 13 people were killed and at least 75 wounded in the incident.
There are widely conflicting accounts of what had happened.
Colonel Arnold Bray from the 82nd Airborne Division says some of the Iraqi protesters were armed with AK-47s.
"When we first started firing there was an engagement," he said.
"I think there was one engagement at the time, then the other two buildings, they started automatic weapons fire. That is when the truth changed."
Now can someone please explain to me exactly what that statement means? Iraq has buildings that spontaneously open fire on innocent occupying liberators for no reason and lie about it? I don't hold out much hope for a peaceful occupation when we have Americans, whose native tongue is not English, trying to communicate with Iraqi civilians and buildings who likewise have a limited grasp of English.
US Lieutenant Christopher Hart says between 100 and 200 chanting people approached his men.
He says US troops opened fire after two gunmen with combat rifles appeared from behind the crowd on a motorcycle and started shooting.
US Central Command said in a statement that about 25 armed civilians fired at the troops.
Lt Hart put the Iraqi dead at between seven and 10.
Local Sunni Muslim cleric Kamal Shaker Mahmoud says the protest was "a peaceful demonstration".
They did not have any weapons," he said. "They were asking the Americans to leave the school so they could use it."
A US officer at the scene, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Nantz, says the bloodshed occurred after the crowd shot into the air, making it hard to tell if his men were under threat.
Well the lads who had mastered the ancient Eastern art of levitation might have felt a little uncomfortable I guess.
"There was a lot of celebratory firing ... last night," Nantz said, noting that it had been Saddam Hussein's 66th birthday.
Yes Nantzy boy, I know it seems odd but that's what they do when they celebrate. However your concern was understandable. From your experience back home it is understandable that you would assume that anyone armed and within cooee of a school is someone ready to take out a few classmates and teachers.
"There were a lot of people who were armed and who were throwing rocks. How is a US soldier to tell the difference between a rock and a grenade?"
Yes, a difficult one Nantzy boy, given your average trigger happy grunt doesn't seem know his head from his arsehole ... and that's the way the Commander in Chief likes it.
The Falluja shooting and a clash between US forces and Iraqi fighters in the northern city of Mosul on Monday in which six Iraqis were killed, have punctured some of the optimism generated by a meeting in Baghdad to kickstart the transition to democracy after Saddam's fall.
"Our soul and our blood, we will sacrifice to you martyrs," mourners in Falluja chanted as they buried their dead at a cemetery while US helicopters flew overhead."
UPDATE:- ANOTHER IRAQI PROTEST FIRED ONUS soldiers have fired on protesting Iraqis in the town of Fallujah for the second time in a week. Reports say up to three Iraqis were shot dead and 15 wounded in the shooting. It comes less than two days after soldiers opened fire on another protest in Fallujah, a Ba'ath party stronghold 30 miles west of Baghdad, which hospital reports say killed 13.
Donald Rumsfeld:- "A number of human beings have been liberated and they are out from under the heel of a vicious, brutal regime". Another 3 terminally liberated Iraqis can take great comfort from Unka Donald's words.
Someone PLEASE send Bob Hope and an all singing, all dancing entourage over to occupied Iraq to keep these trigger happy chappies occupied.