The gang that couldn't shoot straight

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Aug 13 07:01:23 MDT 2003

US troops said to kill two Iraqi policemen
By Susan Milligan, Boston Globe Staff, 8/13/2003

BAGHDAD -- American troops shot dead two members of the new Iraqi police
force and beat up a third, Iraqi police officers said yesterday, in a
development that has aggravated already stressed relations between US
troops and the Iraqi people.

American military officials have said little about the Saturday
shootings, saying that the matter is under investigation. But family
members of one of the victims and police officers -- including a captain
who was at the scene -- described a horrific shoot-out in which
coalition soldiers shot uniformed Iraqi police even as the officers were
waving their badges and yelling, "We're police! We're police!"

At least seven Iraqi police have been killed in the last week -- five
from Thursday's explosion at the Jordanian embassy. Some officers say
they feel not only insufficiently protected from criminal attack, but in
danger from US forces who are supposed to be helping them bring order to
Baghdad's volatile streets.

Saturday's shootings were the first allegation by Iraqis that US troops
killed their partners in restoring security in this volatile city. Iraqi
police have been given the duty of local law enforcement while US
soldiers are posted at local police stations.

"We cannot do our work right now. We are afraid they will shoot us, like
our friends. Our lives are not worth (the monthly police salary of)
$120," said Sergeant Kotabe Kazal, standing by the black mourning cloths
hung on the wall near the police station to honor his two fallen colleagues.

Captain Alaa Isamil said he received a report Saturday night from fellow
officers that they had identified a stolen car and were pursuing it.
When Isamil arrived at the scene, the lieutenant who had called him was
dead on the street from a bullet in the head. His front passenger door
was open. Another officer was dead in the back seat and a third was
splayed on the ground with a wounded leg.

Isamil asked an American soldier if he could talk to the driver, but was
refused, since there was no translator present.

Finally, the troops allowed Isamil to talk to the surviving police
officer, but only if he relinquished his police pistol.

The driver, whom police said was interviewed yesterday by US
investigators, offered the following account, according to Isamil:

The police were trying to apprehend alleged car thieves, who shot at the
police car. Iraqi police returned fire, and American soldiers --
apparently hearing the shots -- arrived on the scene. But the troops
shot at the Iraqi police car, hitting the officer in the back seat,
Isamil said.



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