At least four killed in new Mosul shootings: hospital
Wed Apr 16,11:24 AM ET
MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - At least four people were killed and several others wounded by gunshots near the governorate buildings in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, the second such incident here in two days, a hospital official and witnesses said.
Several witnesses told AFP US troops fired on a crowd from the rooftops of the buildings, but that was denied by a US marine officer here. However US forces admitted partial responsibility for Tuesday's incidents after initially denying it.
Brigadier General Vincent Brooks at US Central Command's war base in Qatar said Wednesday that the previous day "fire was indeed delivered from coalition forces; it was lethal fire, and some Iraqis were killed as a result. We think the number is in the order of seven and we think there were some wounded as well."
Hospital sources for their part put the death toll at 15 with 28 wounded, from an earlier figure of 12 killed and 60 wounded.
On Wednesday, an AFP journalist saw two bodies arrive at Al-Zahrawi hospital, where a doctor said eight people were also wounded. "Four bodies have just been brought in," Dr. Riyadh Hamdi said.
Witnesses told AFP US troops stationed on top of the government buildings had opened fire.
In response, Captain James Jarvis told AFP "there was no firing on the crowd today."
Someone "started shooting on our marines; we subsequently returned fire. We were engaged by two roof-top locations. We were fired upon and took well aimed fire".
He added that three local policemen were wounded in the shooting.
In a separate incident Wednesday, an Iraqi police officer said his men had intervened in a bank raid when the Americans started shooting.
"A police patrol went to the bank to arrest the robbers. They fired a shot into the air and then the Americans, with the peshmergas (Kurdish fighters), fired on the civilians and the robbers," said Farsy Hasham, who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident.
Three policemen were injured, the officer in charge said.
One of them, 21-year-old Mohammed Azad, said "the police fired in the air to scare the robbers, later there were shots fired blindly at us from the governorate building," where the US troops were posted.
Another eyewitness, a civil servant who was driving police in his own car at the time, said: "The police knew there were robbers inside the bank. When they went in they arrested one robber but the other two got away.
"Outside, a crowd gathered to see what was happening and followed the police who were taking the robber towards the governorate.
"The Americans saw the crowd and started firing blind. I saw them with my own eyes. There were inside the building and on the roof. They did not let us take the injured," said Makhmud Ahmed, 31.
He said the bank was 500 metres (yards) from the local government building and the crowd was 100 metres away.
Yunes Yassin, a 28-year-old workman, interviewed separately, told a similar story of how the American troops opened fire, apparently thinking they were coming under attack.
"The police learned there was a bank robbery in progress and sent a patrol.
"Three cars arrived on the scene and the policemen entered the bank. A crowd had gathered in the square outside to watch when the shooting started, coming from the government building. I saw an American on the roof firing a machine gun."
Omar Hassan, a 39-year-old civil servant, also said the shots came "from the roof of the government building where the Americans were".
Catpain Jarvis said only: "We didn't return fire with regard to the bank robbery."
On Tuesday witnesses had claimed US troops fired shots as the crowd became increasingly hostile towards the new governor, Mashaan al-Juburi, who was making a speech they deemed too supportive of the United States.
But Brooks made no mention of the governor, saying an agitated crowd had gathered at a former government compound US forces had selected for use as a regional co-ordinating centre, "throwing rocks at the marines, hitting them with elbows, hitting them with fists and spitting on them as they entered the complex."
Later an ambulance fitted out with loudspeakers arrived and "incensed the crowd," said Brooks, adding that a coalition vehicle with loudspeakers was at the same time trying to calm the demonstrators, who had begun to set civilian vehicles on fire.
US forces "observed men with weapons in and amongst the crowd who were firing in the air ... Warning shots were fired by coalition forces into a field beyond where the crowd was forming," said Brooks.
"Thereafter fire was directed at the marines and special forces in the complex. It was aimed fire and aimed fire was then returned against some of the demonstrators, some of the agitated persons who were now climbing over the wall of the compound," the general added.
"The attacking was occurring from two sides and there was clear observation of men with weapons involved firing on the building during that time," said Brooks.
He said an investigation was continuing.
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