Is it OK to Kill 13 Civilians?

From “The Times” of London

29 April 2003

US troops ‘kill 13’ after shooting at Iraqi crowd

By agencies in fallujah

US troops opened fire on Iraqi demonstrators near Baghdad last night reportedly killing 13 people including three children.

Seventy five more Iraqis were injured in the incident in Fallujah.

There were conflicting reports as to the reason for their march. Some locals said they were marking Saddam Hussein’s birthday, others said that students were protesting at US troops continuing to occupy their school and demanded that lessons resume.

Colonel Arnold Bray of the 82nd Airborne Division said that seven demonstrators were shot after US troops came under fire.

A spokeswoman at US Central Command said: “Members of the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division came upon a group of Iraqis armed with AK47s last night. The Iraqis fired on them. The troops returned fire.”

But witnesses said that the US soldiers were not threatened by the demonstrators. Al-Jazeera television, quoting local residents, said that the US troops opened fire after someone threw a rock at the school.

Mohammed Hamid, a resident of the town which is 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of the capital, said: “The shooting broke out when 500 protestors carrying portraits of Saddam and Iraqi flags approached a school manned by US troops.”

Others said that the demonstration was conducted by students between the ages of 5 and 20. But Colonel Bray said that some of them were armed. He said: “Ask them which kind of schoolboys carry AK47s.”

Dr Ahmed Ghanim al-Ali, director of Fallujah General Hospital, said that there were 13 dead, including three boys under 11 years old. He said that his medical crews were shot at when they went to retrieve the injured, which he said numbered 75.

Edtesam Shamsudeim, 37, said that her 45-year-old brother died in the gunfire. She was shot in the leg and her husband was wounded. “We were sitting in our house. When the shooting started, my husband tried to close the door to keep the children in, and he was shot.”

Outside the school today, people chanted for US forces to leave Iraq. They said in Arabic: “Go Go USA!”. Thousands of distraught people were attending funerals for the victims today, Al-Jazeera reported.

The US Army said today that it would deploy up to 4,000 additional military police and infantrymen in Baghdad in the next two weeks to help stem looting and lawlessness in the capital.

Major-General Glenn Webster, deputy commander of US ground forces in Iraq, made the announcement before a meeting with city officials to discuss disorder in the city.

Iraqis have complained that US forces did too little to safeguard Baghdad.