US soldiers killed in Iraq

Soldier kills two US troops and wounds nine after a quarrel erupted in army camp in country's north.

    The shooting resulted in the first US fatalities since the end of combat operations in Iraq last week [GALLO/GETTY]

    An Iraqi soldier has killed two US soldiers and wounded nine others after he opened fire on troops in an army compound near the Iraqi city of Tuz Khurmatu in Salaheddin province.

    Tuesday's shooting resulted in the first US fatalities since Washington declared end to its combat operations in Iraq last week.

    Iraqi and US troops had been playing a sports match when a quarrel erupted between one local and one US soldier, according to Major General Mohammed al-Askari, an Iraqi defence ministry spokesman.

    "The Iraqi soldier opened fire on them," he said, naming the gunman as Soran Rahman Saleh Wali.

    "The American soldiers killed the Iraqi soldier. We have opened a high-level investigation into this issue," he added.

    The US military said in a statement: "Eleven US soldiers were engaged with small arms fire, killing two and wounding nine, inside an Iraqi army commando compound."

    US forces said the shooting happened at around 3:50 pm [1250 GMT], adding that the individual medical conditions of the wounded could not be confirmed.

    First since withdrawal

    Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Baghdad, said: "These are the first US military fatalities to be reported since the change of command ceremony on September 1 that marked the end of 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' and the beginning of 'Operation New Dawn'."

    "We have not heard of an attack of this magnitude on US soldiers in quite a while."

    Tuesday's violence brought to 4,418 the total number of US soldiers who have died in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, according to an AFP news agency tally based on independent website icasualties.org.

    "This is a tragic and cowardly act, which I firmly believe was an isolated incident and is certainly not reflective of the Iraqi security forces in Salaheddin," Major General Tony Cuculo, the commander of American forces in northern Iraq, said.

    The shooting comes two days after a suicide attack on an Iraqi army complex in Baghdadkilled 12 people and wounded 29 others.

    While nearly 50,000 US troops remain stationed in Iraq, Joe Biden, the US vice president, launched the new mission while visiting Baghdad last week, opening up a fresh phase in a seven-year deployment.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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