U.S. Troops Mistakenly Kill 8 Iraqi Police
1 hour, 20 minutes ago

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Eight Fallujah policemen and a Jordanian security guard were killed and nine other people were wounded early Friday, an Iraqi doctor said. Injured Iraqi police said an American patrol opened fire on the police in an apparent friendly fire incident as they chased a highway bandit.

An American military statement Friday said one U.S. soldier and five "neutral individuals" were wounded in an attack near the Jordanian Hospital in Fallujah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad. The military said U.S. soldiers were fired on with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms. It gave no other details and it was not even certain the U.S. statement was issued about the same event. The military would not say when the incident it described had occurred.

Also early Friday in a separate firefight in Ramadi, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Fallujah, two American soldiers were killed and seven wounded during a raid at 3 a.m., the military said. No other details were given.

In the apparent friendly fire incident in Fallujah 25 policemen in three vehicles, two pickup trucks and a sedan, were chasing a white BMW known to have been used by highway bandits. As the chase neared the Jordanian Hospital about 1:30 a.m. on the west side of Fallujah, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Baghdad, the police turned around after losing sight of their quarry. The American patrol at the location opened fire, said Asem Mohammed, 23, a police sergeant who was among the injured.

"We were chasing a white BMW with bandits. We turned around in front of Jordanian Hospital and some American forces started shooting at us," he said.

Members of the Jordanian armed forces guarding the hospital apparently also opened fire when the Americans began shooting, catching the Iraqi police part of the Fallujah Protection Force in a vicious crossfire. After the incident, heavily armed Jordanian security guards were seen examining a bullet-ridden building just inside the walled hospital compound.

The 100-bed Jordanian military field hospital was sent in April 2003 to provide Iraqis and others with medical care. It also houses diplomats that were transferred there after the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad was attacked with a car bomb last month.

"We were in-between firing from all sides," Mohammed said. "We were in the middle."

Dr. Dial Jumaili, who went to the scene to treat the victims, said there were eight dead policemen. He said two others were in serious condition and taken to a nearby U.S. base. Hospital. Two other Irasi Iraqi policemen, four Jordanian guards and an Iraqi civilian also were injured.

In the Fallujah Hospital, where most of the injured were taken after the mistaken, 19-year-old policeman Arkan Adnan Ahmed said the shooting lasted about 45 minutes. He was shot in the shoulder.

He said the sudden appearance of one of the police vehicles, an unmarked pickup truck with a machine gun mounted on top, may have prompted the Americans to begin firing. "We shouted 'we are police. We are police.' Then we drove off the road into a field."

The Fallujah Gov. Taha Badawi ordered the bodies taken to Ramadi for autopsies before they were returned to the families.

There were other unconfirmed reports of violence in the region Friday after a message carrying the name of Saddam Hussein appeared on at least one building in Fallujah. The message praised the people of the city for their resistance to the American occupation and named it capital of al-Anbar province. The nearby city of Ramadi, west of Fallujah, is the capital of the Sunni dominated al-Anbar province.

Thursday afternoon, attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades at a U.S. military convoy about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Fallujah, touching off an intense firefight that left at least one American soldier wounded, the military said.

Tanks and other vehicles from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment came under attack, the military said.

Other "U.S. forces responding to the scene came under fire and returned fire at houses nearby," U.S. Army Capt. Jeff Fitzgibbons said.

There was no information regarding casualties among attackers. Two U.S. military trucks were also destroyed during the fighting along Highway 10, he said.

The Fallujah region has been one of the most dangerous for U.S. soldiers. Support for ousted dictator Saddam runs strongest in the region.

Associated Press Television News pictures from Khaldiya, 20 miles (32 kilometers) west of Fallujah, showed a burning tank transport truck, a burning 5-ton truck and at least one burning Humvee. Earlier Thursday, three U.S. soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division were injured when guerillas fired rocket-propelled grenades and shot small arms at a military convoy in Mosul, northern Iraq (news - web sites), the military said.

In Baghdad, Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, a key member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council and a top Shiite Muslim cleric, told a news conference Friday that the car bombing that killed his brother and at least 85 other people in Najaf last month was a "terrorist operation" and would not be the last such attack.

Al-Hakim, who took over leadership of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq after his brother's assassination Aug. 29, said the attack was part of a "diabolical and cunning conspiracy" to target Iraqi infrastructure, assassinate other senior clerics and desecrate holy Muslim shrines.

At the news conference held at a Supreme Council building in central Baghdad, al-Hakim also issued a blunt warning to Arab satellite broadcasters like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya against "playing a role that tears the nation apart and supports terrorist groups."

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