US soldiers fire on Baghdad protesters

US soldiers opened fire on Iraqi protesters in Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least two and injuring two others. Three US soldiers were killed in separate incidents in the capital following the incident.

     

    The shooting is likely to fan 
    anti-occupation sentiments

    Up to 300 former soldiers were demonstrating in front of the former presidential palace, which now serves as the occupation headquarters. 

    The US soldiers opened fire when the demonstrators began throwing stones at them.

    Our correspondent reported that the demonstrators said three Iraqis were killed. He was unable to confirm the report.

    The protesters, disgruntled after losing their jobs when the US administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, dissolved the armed forces last month, also tussled with journalists, including the Aljazeera crew.

    According to Reuters, demonstrators attacked two Iraqi Reuters television cameramen and beat passing United Nations and television vehicles with their shoes.

    Bremer's drive to wipe out Ba'athists has laid off 400,000 people. Critics say the sweeping policy fails to distinguish between people who enforced ousted leader Saddam Hussein's rule and those who joined the party out of expediency.

    More US deaths

    Following the incident, a hand grenade was thrown at US soldiers guarding a petrol station in southern Baghdad, killing two of them, an AFP photographer said. 

    An Iraqi policeman confirmed the attack, but the US military has not yet confirmed it.

    A US military spokesman said one American soldier was also killed and a second wounded in a drive-by shooting incident in central Baghdad.

    Iraqis are venting their anger
    against the occupation

    Aljazeera also reported that US soldiers shot dead two Iraqis in the town of al-Qaem, near the Syrian-Iraqi border. The circumstances of the shooting were still unclear.

    In a separate incident US troops opened fire at a civilian Iraqi car in the restive town of Fallujah, seriously injuring the driver, reported Aljazeera.

    The passenger in the car said a female US soldier opened fire "without reason". Fallujah has been a hotbed of anti-occupation attacks.

    “People of Falluja are complaining of the US continuous provocative actions,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Tayseer Allouni.

    “Almost everyday, Iraqis carry out resistance actions, whether by firing US infantry forces or launching rocket-propelled grenades at their vehicles.

    These attacks are always succeeded by US patrols and search operations, arresting more citizens, who are accused of either being members of the Al-Ba’ath party, or of possessing weapons,” Allouni said. 

    “People in Falluja are also complaining of theft, carried out by US forces while searching their houses,” added Allouni .

    In a separate incident in the town, four children were killed and two injured when the remnants of a cluster bomb they were playing with exploded, reported Allouni.

    The bombs have been widely criticised by human rights groups. Many fail to explode leaving a fatal hazard in the theatre of war for years come.

    Iraqi group emerges

    A group calling itself the Iraqi Resistance Brigades (IRB) said in a statement on Tuesday that it is behind all the military activities against US-led occupation forces.

    A SAIRI official urged for
    'peaceful' resistance

    The previously unknown group said its cells had planned and carried out the resistance operations in Iraq.

    The group’s statement was faxed to Aljazeera, just as the US occupation forces rounded up more than 400 people as part of Operation Desert Scorpion (ODS).

    IRB denied news reports that its members supported the former regime headed by President Saddam Hussein, or that the resistance activities were conducted by individual initiatives of “extremist Islamists”.

    The resistance activities, the statement said, are “the work of a group of Iraqi and Arab youths who believe in the unity, freedom and pan-Arabism of Iraq”.

    “The resistance brigades consider Saddam Hussein and his followers as enemies who had contributed to the loss of the country and deepening its wounds.

    'Peaceful' resistance

    The second-in-command of Iraq's main Shia group, Abd Al-Aziz Hakim, rejected attacks on US soldiers and called for "peaceful" resistance, in an interview published on Wednesday.

    "There is no fatwa (religious decree) from the ulema of Iraq authorising such attacks because they cause too many problems," Hakim told al-Hayat, an Arabic-language daily, published in London.

    The Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI) official said his group wanted to end the occupation peacefully.

    He said resistance took different forms, depending on the circumstances.


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