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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

US admits shooting Iraqi civilians

One Iraqi civilian has been killed and another three wounded after US troops opened fire on a car north of Baghdad, the US military shas aid.

The US military said in a statement on Tuesday that the shooting took place a day earlier after a vehicle approached troops at Tarmiyah, 60km north of Baghdad.

"Coalition forces fired warning shots to get the vehicle to stop, but it continued to maneouvre towards them at a high rate of speed," it said.

"A second set of warning shots was fired, but the driver again did not comply."

'Perceived hostile intent'

The statement added: "Perceiving hostile intent, coalition forces engaged, wounding the four passengers inside the vehicle.

"The four individuals were evacuated to a military medical facility to receive treatment, but one died during transport."

Major Anton Alston, US military spokesman, said the deaths were "regrettable".

The incident came one week after nine civilians, including three women and a child, were reported killed by US forces firing on vehicles in three separate incidents.

Meanwhile, the SITE Intelligence Group said that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq, had ordered in a new bombing campaign in an audio message broadcast on the internet.

'Fictitious leader'

"This campaign should be based on explosives and its target should be the apostates ... wearing uniforms and all those who fight alongside the occupiers," he said.
"Every soldier is to detonate at least three bombs by the end of the campaign."

The message is his first since Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, in October called on the leaders of Iraq groups to bury rivalries and unite to fight against the US-led coalition.

The US military has said that the group only exists on the internet and al-Baghdadi was a "fictitious leader" created to give an Iraqi face to an organisation led by foreigners.

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have been facing increased opposition from Sunni "Awakening Councils" in recent months as they have formed neighbourhood police forces supported by the Americans.

Casualties have dropped sharply in the past two months and attacks have reportedly fallen by 55 per cent.

The US military says the improvement is partly as a result of 30,000 extra US troops which became fully operational in mid-June.

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