U.S.: Troops killed reporter in tragic incidenty


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 18 The U.S. military admitted Monday that U.S. troops accidentally killed a television journalist after soldiers mistook his video camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Meanwhile, U.S. Army engineers battled a blaze on Iraqys main oil export pipeline--a crucial lifeline for the floundering economy--after two explosions last week set it on fire, and in Baghdad, a U.S. soldier was killed by an explosive device.

IN THE journalist's death, the U.S. military said that troops had "engaged" Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, thinking that his camera was an RPG launcher.

"This is clearly another tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable,"said Central Command spokesman Sgt. Maj. Lewis Matson.

Dana's driver, however, thought the cameraman, 43, had been deliberately shot outside the U.S.-run jail. Journalists had gathered there after the U.S. Army announced that a mortar attack on Saturday evening had killed at least six Iraqi prisoners and wounded scores.

"There were many journalists around. They knew we were journalists," said Munzer Abbas. "This was not an accident."

Stephan Breitner of France 2 television echoed that view. "We were all there, for at least half an hour. They knew we were journalists. After they shot Mazen, they aimed their guns at us. I don't think it was accident. They are very tense. They are crazy."

Dana's death brought to 18 the number of journalists or their assistants killed since the invasion of Iraq on March 20. He was the second Reuters journalist to have been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq.

Reuters Chief Executive Tom Glocer called for "the fullest and most comprehensive investigation into this terrible tragedy." The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders also urged U.S. authorities to conduct a full inquiry.

Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was working with Dana as a sound technician, said no gunshots had been heard in the area before the military opened fire. "I don't understand why they start shooting at us," he said. "It was his last day in Baghdad. He was supposed to go to Amman [in neighboring Jordan], meet with his wife and children for a wedding of his nephew in Amman."

[rest of article, on other matters, snipped]