American soldiers accidentally shot and killed a young Iraqi girl in Diyala Province on Wednesday, and three soldiers were killed in a rocket attack in the southeast, as a wave of deadly violence continued.
The military said soldiers in Diyala fired a warning shot near "a suspicious woman who appeared to be signaling to someone." They then found the girl, whose age was not released, with a gunshot wound. She was given medical treatment but died on the way to a hospital. Military officials, who referred to the shooting as "an escalation of force incident," said improvised explosive devices had recently been found in the region where the shooting occurred.
The deaths of the three soldiers in an early morning attack on a base near Nasiriya brought to 12 the number of American soldiers killed over three days.
The above is from Erica Goode's "U.S. Troops Kill Iraqi Girl; 3 Soldiers Die in Attack" (New York Times) and. later in the article (much later), Goode notes the attack on the bus carrying Iraqi civilians (9 is the death toll in yesterday's snapshot, Goode reports it was actually 16), the attack on the bus by the US military which family members and bus passenger Qasim Salih Jaber say very clearly was an attack but the US military continues to deny involvement. Joshuas Partlow and Saad Sarhan (Washington Post) also note bus driver Zeki Abdul Qader in their report:
Qader, the driver, said he was reaching the tail end of a long military convoy when he heard gunfire and the sound of bullets striking his bus.
"They shot me with small arms from the beginning of the bus to the end, the whole side, then they shot this rocket," Qader, 58, said in a telephone interview. The explosion tore through three rows near the middle of the bus -- four passengers per row--killing 12 people almost instantly, he said. Four others on the bus were also killed, he said.
"The bus turned to all black smoke, you could see nothing, and all the windows blew out except one or two," he said. "The bus went off the road and I tried hard to keep it from flipping over."
After the bus stopped, U.S. soldiers cordoned off the surrounding area and Iraqi forces arrived at the scene. Qader and Jubur said they themselves did not see American soldiers firing but heard the gunfire and were told by the Iraqi soldiers that the American troops had fired.
Abbas al-Khafaji, director of the funeral home in Najaf where the bodies were taken for burial preparation, said one infant and at least four women had bullet holes in their bodies in addition to shrapnel wounds. Ali Hussein, 37, the uncle of the slain 6-month-old, Abbas Jihad, confirmed that the boy had two bullet wounds in the chest.
Hannah Allam's "Severed fingers of 5 hostages given to U.S. officials in Iraq" (McClatchy Newspapers) reports the following:
U.S. authorities in Baghdad have received five severed fingers belonging to four Americans and an Austrian who were taken hostage more than a year ago in Iraq, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The FBI is investigating the grisly development, and the families of the five kidnapped contractors have been notified, American officials said on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Authorities confirmed that the fingers belonged to hostages Jonathon Cote, of Gainesville, Fla.; Joshua Munns, of Redding, Calif.; Paul Johnson Reuben, of Buffalo, Minn.; Bert Nussbaumer of Vienna, Austria; and Ronald J. Withrow, an American who was kidnapped separately from the others.
Finally, Warren P. Strobel reports that the Pentagon has announced it will not be releasing the report that documents that there was no link between Iraq under Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda:
Rather than posting the report online and making officials available to discuss it, as had been planned, the U.S. Joint Forces Command said it would mail copies of the document to reporters -- if they asked for it. The report won't be posted on the Internet.
The reversal highlighted the politically sensitive nature of its conclusions, which were first reported Monday by McClatchy.
In making their case for invading Iraq in 2002 and 2003, President Bush and his top national security aides claimed that Saddam's regime had ties to Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network.
But the study, based on more than 600,000 captured documents, including audio and video files, found that while Saddam sponsored terrorism, particularly against opponents of his regime and against Israel, there was no evidence of an al Qaida link.
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