Two US soldiers guarding a filling station in southern Baghdad were killed in a hand grenade attack, AFP reported Wednesday. US helicopters arrived at the scene and removed the bodies, the report said, adding that the attackers fled. According to other sources, just one soldier was killed and another was wounded.
The attackers walked up to a squad of troops guarding the gas station and opened fire at close range before fleeing in a waiting car, witnesses told Capt. David Gercken, a spokesman for the Army's 1st Armored Division.
In another incident, American occupation troops opened fire during a demonstration outside the American headquarters in Baghdad Wednesday. The U.S. military said two demonstrators were wounded, but protesters said at least two people were killed and one wounded.
An American military spokesman said the incident started when the demonstrators threw stones at a convoy of military police vehicles moving toward the gateway of the Republican Palace, Saddam Hussein's former presidential compound and now the headquarters of the U.S.-led administration.
"A soldier did fire his weapon," in response to the stoning, said Capt. John Morgan, the spokesman. "We have reports of two Iraqis wounded," AP reported.
The wounded men were taken to a medical facility inside the complex of the 1st Armored Division, Morgan said.
Iraqis who participated in the protest said the violence began when the crowd pressed against a vehicle moving slowly outside the gate and banged on it. A soldier fired into the air, apparently setting off a panic in the crowd. Qatar-based Al Jazeera TV reported at least three Iraqis were killed by the US fire.
There have been frequent demonstrations outside the Republican Palace, usually over the issue of unpaid wages to civil servants and the army.
On Tuesday, New York-based Human Rights Watch alleged that troops used excessive force in the town of Fallujah when they shot and killed 20 protesters and wounded nearly 90 in two incidents on April 28 and 30.
The demonstration occurred as U.S. forces intensified their searches in the capital for weapons and supporters of Saddam's regime. Before dawn Wednesday, troops sealed several streets of the Karrada neighborhood and called residents from their beds to stand in the street as they searched their homes. One man was taken away with his hands bound behind his back. (Albawaba.com)
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