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Reuters soundman killed in Baghdad,police blame US
Reuters soundman killed in Baghdad,police blame US
28 Aug 2005 15:14:19 GMT
By Alastair Macdonald
BAGHDAD, Aug 28 (Reuters) - A Reuters Television soundman was shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday and a cameraman with him was wounded and then detained by U.S. soldiers.
Iraqi police said they had been shot by U.S. forces. A U.S. military spokesman said the incident was being investigated.
Waleed Khaled, 35, was hit by a shot to the face and at least four to the chest as he drove to check a report from police sources of an incident involving police and gunmen in the Hay al-Adil district, in the west of the city.
"A team from Reuters news agency was on assignment to cover the killing of two policemen in Hay al-Adil; U.S. forces opened fire on the team from Reuters and killed Waleed Khaled, who was shot in the head, and wounded Haider Kadhem," an Interior Ministry official quoted the police incident report as saying.
"I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping centre," cameraman Kadhem, who was wounded in the back, told colleagues who arrived at the scene.
The only known eyewitness, he was later detained by U.S. troops and was still in custody six hours later despite Reuters' requests that he be freed to receive medical attention. His precise whereabouts were not clear.
Two Iraqi colleagues who arrived on the scene minutes after the shooting were also briefly detained, then released.
"They treated us like dogs. They made us, ... including Khaled who was wounded and asking for water, sit in the sun on the road," Reuters Television soundman Mohammed Idriss said.
Asked to comment on the incident, U.S. spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Steven Boylan said it was being investigated.
A U.S. statement said: "Task Force Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi Police convoy around 11:20 a.m. (0720 GMT) Aug. 28 in central Baghdad, which killed and wounded several Iraqi Police.
"One civilian was killed and another was wounded by small- arms fire during the attack ... After discovering an abandoned car with explosives material, weapons and a cell phone, units began searching the area for the terror suspects who were believed to have fled on foot."
REUTERS DEEPLY SADDENED
Reuters Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger said: "This tragic incident must immediately be investigated thoroughly and impartially.
"A brave journalist has lost his life and another has been wounded and detained when their only actions were as professionals reporting the facts and images of the war. We are deeply saddened at this loss."
Iraqis complain of frequent killings of civilians by U.S. forces, most of which go unreported and uninvestigated. American commanders say their troops are trained to be vigilant against suicide bombers and to avoid firing on civilians.
Reuters correspondent Michael Georgy, who arrived at the scene about an hour after the shooting, said the soundman's body was still in the driver's seat, the face covered by a cloth.
Entry and exit wounds could be seen on the face indicating shots from the victim's right. There were several bullet holes in the windscreen and at least four wounds in the chest.
His U.S. military and Reuters press cards, clipped to his shirt, were caked in blood. In one, there were two bullet holes.
To the right of the scene, a U.S. soldier, apparently a sniper, was posted on the roof of a shopping centre.
A British security adviser working for Reuters said it seemed likely that high-velocity rounds had been fired at the car from roughly the direction of that building.
The car, an ordinary, white four-door passenger vehicle, was heading down an offramp, about 200 metres from a main road.
U.S. armoured vehicles blocked off the scene. After a brief inspection of the car, they allowed Reuters staff and the dead man's family to have it towed away. One soldier said there were no suspicious items in the car. Colleagues and relatives were handed a military body bag to remove the corpse.
A U.S. officer said: "They drove into fighting."
As Waleed's tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a U.S. soldier said: "Don't bother. It's not worth it."
A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few feet (metres) from the body.
Waleed was a jovial character loved by colleagues with whom he had worked for two years. He leaves a 7-year-old daughter and his wife, who is four months pregnant.
Two Reuters cameramen have been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003. A third was shot dead by a sniper in Ramadi last November in circumstances for which Reuters is still seeking an explanation from U.S. forces.
Reuters' cameraman in the city of Ramadi, Ali al-Mashhadani, was arrested by U.S. forces three weeks ago and is being held without charge in Abu Ghraib prison. U.S. military officials say he will face a judicial hearing as soon as Monday but have still given no access to the journalist or said what he is accused of.