2 US soldiers killed in attack by Iraqi on military base
BAGHDAD - An Iraqi soldier yesterday sprayed automatic weapons fire at US soldiers at an Iraqi military base in Mosul, killing two and wounding six before he died in a hail of bullets, a US general said.
In Baghdad, bombers struck the capital for a third straight day, killing 23 people and wounding scores in a string of attacks in mostly Shi'ite areas.
Major General Mark Hertling, commander of US forces in northern Iraq, told The Associated Press the "premeditated" attack occurred in a courtyard as the soldiers waited for their two lieutenants to finish a meeting with an Iraqi army company commander.
Hertling, who said he had spoken with some of the wounded troops, disputed Iraqi accounts that the shooting followed a heated argument between the Iraqi soldier and the Americans.
Hertling said the attacker strolled into the courtyard carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a drum of ammunition, walked to a corner, turned and opened fire.
"One shot was aimed and the rest was literally a spray," he said. "There was no argument, no spitting, no slapping, none of that occurred."
The six wounded American soldiers were expected to recover, Hertling said.
He said senior Iraqi army and police commanders in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, had expressed regret over the shooting and promised a joint investigation.
In Baghdad, Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari said the shooting followed a quarrel at an Iraqi base in a volatile Sunni Arab neighborhood in central Mosul. The Iraqi soldier was identified as Barzan al-Hadidi.
It was the second such shooting in Mosul in a year, raising questions about the professionalism and preparedness of Iraqi security forces and their relations with their American partners.
Last December, an Iraqi soldier allegedly shot and killed a US captain and a sergeant during a joint operation in Mosul, where Al Qaeda and other Sunni insurgent groups still operate.
Tensions are running high in Mosul, where US and Iraqi troops have been trying since last spring to rout insurgents from Iraq's third largest city. The military campaign has also raised friction between the Arab population and Kurdish soldiers of the Iraqi army sent there to help restore order.
Also in Mosul, two Christian sisters were killed and their mother was wounded in an attack on their home yesterday, police said. The attackers rigged the house with booby traps and one Iraqi policeman was injured when he came to investigate the slayings, Hertling said.
As violence raged in Mosul, a string of bombings rocked Baghdad for the third consecutive day, killing 23 people and wounding about 90, police said. The Iraqi Army acknowledged the rise in attacks and said it was taking measures to curb "the increasing number of terrorist attacks" in the city.
A military spokesman, Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, said the measures would include stepped-up intelligence gathering and preemptive strikes on suspected extremists.