U.S. sniper kills Reuters man in Iraq
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U.S. sniper kills Reuters man in Iraq

Al Jazeera Magazine | August 29 2005

U.S. occupation forces in Iraq shot dead a Reuters television soundman and wounded a cameraman, Iraqi police said on Sunday.

"American soldiers opened fire on the team, killing the soundman and wounding the cameraman before detaining him," the police said.

A U.S. sniper opened fire on Waleed Khaled while he was on his way to check a report of an incident involving the killing of two policemen in the western Hay al-Adil district.

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"A team from Reuters news agency was on assignment to cover the killing of two policemen in Hay al-Adil; U.S. forces opened fire on the team from Reuters and killed Waleed Khaled, who was shot in the head, and wounded Haider Kadhem," an Interior Ministry official quoted the police incident report as saying.

"I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping center."

Asked about the incident at a news conference marking the signing of Iraq constitution, U.S. ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said the incident was unfortunate but stopped short of apologizing.

"This is unfortunate... but sometimes mistakes are made. We don't target civilians," he said.

"Military operations unfortunately are not a perfect science... Sometimes mistakes happen, and when they are made we investigate," he added.

Reuters said that Waleed Khaled, 35, was shot in the head and took at least four bullets to the chest, while cameraman Haidar Kadhem, 24, was wounded in the back.

Two of Waleed’s colleagues who arrived at the scene minutes after he was killed, were briefly detained and released, Reuters said.

"They treated us like dogs. They made us ... including Haider who was wounded and asking for water, sit in the sun on the road," one said.
They said that Khaled was still alive when they reached him, and that US troops refused to give him water despite the blazing sun.

A U.S. military statement said: "Task Force Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi Police convoy around 11:20 a.m. (0720 GMT) ... which killed and wounded several Iraqi Police. One civilian was killed and another was wounded by small-arms fire during the attack."

A Reuters correspondent said that Khaled's body was still in the driver's seat when he arrived at the scene about 20 minutes after the shooting, and that his face was covered with a cloth

"Entry and exit wounds could be seen on the face indicating shots from the victim's right. There were several bullet holes in the windscreen and at least four wounds in the chest," Reuters quoted its correspondent as saying.

"His U.S. military and Reuters press cards, clipped to his shirt, were caked in blood. In one, there were two bullet holes," it said.

U.S. troops gave Reuters staff a military body bag to carry the corpse, Reuters said.

"As Waleed's tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a U.S. soldier said: 'Don't bother. It's not worth it'. A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few meters (feet) from the body", it added.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 52 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003. Also 21 media support staff, including drivers, translators, and security guards have been killed in the line of duty.

 


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