BAGHDAD -- US military police shot and killed two detainees and wounded five others in an effort to put down a massive brawl that broke out yesterday at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison west of the Iraqi capital.
Troubles began when several detainees attacked another inmate with rocks and tent poles in a fight that quickly escalated, drawing in 200 inmates at a tented detention camp within the sprawling prison compound, said Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson, the US military's spokesman for detention operations in Iraq.
Detainees hurled rocks at US soldiers, ignoring "verbal warnings" and then a volley of rubber bullets from US military police, Johnson said.
The military decided to use lethal force because one detainee was at risk of being killed by fellow inmates, he said, and "lethal force was used in the form of aimed shots against those most involved in the direct violence against the individual who was being attacked."
One of the detainees was killed and a second, critically wounded, died of his wounds at a military hospital.
It was not known what caused the fight.
Abu Ghraib was at the center of a scandal over allegations that American prison guards abused Iraqi detainees.
US authorities have released thousands of detainees from the prison in the last several months.