Two U.S. Soldiers Killed, Nine Wounded in Iraq Firefight
According to U.S. Central Command, the American soldiers fought back with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and other weapons, killing two of the attackers and capturing six others. Maj. Randy Martin, a spokesman for the Army’s V Corps told the Associated Press all of the soldiers were from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment based in Fort Carson, Colorado.
“Who knows what they were thinking when they engaged U.S. soldiers?” Martin told the AP. “We suffered casualties, and the enemy paid a price for those casualties.”
Martin said those captured were being interrogated.
Officials did not comment on the origin of the attacking forces, but Central Command said in a statement that “initial reports” indicated the attackers “fired from a mosque inside the city.”
“The use of a religious site, such as a mosque or church, as cover for military purposes is a violation of the Law of War,” the statement said.
However, Martin told the AP the incident occurred at a traffic checkpoint. He said that two vehicles were stopped at the roadblock and that occupants of the second vehicle opened fire and threw a grenade at U.S. troops while soldiers were searching the first vehicle.
In its statement, Central Command said that an Army Medivac helicopter responding to the incident was accidentally damaged by a U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicle while the vehicle was maneuvering into a firing position. The Arabic satellite network Al-Jazeera, however, quoted witnesses as saying the attackers shot down the aircraft, killing its crew. According to Reuters, the network showed images of U.S. soldiers loading the damaged craft onto a large flatbed truck.
Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, has been the site of several violent conflicts between coalition forces and anti-U.S. fighters.
American troops killed at least 15 people and wounded some 75 others in late April after opening fire on a crowd of protesters — a move U.S. officials said came after Iraqis in the crowd began shooting at coalition soldiers. Some witnesses claimed the U.S. fire on the group, believed to be between 200 and 500 strong, was unprovoked.
Days later, seven U.S. soldiers were injured when Iraqi militants attacked a coalition base inside the city with grenades and small arms fire.
Tuesday’s deaths brought to four the number of U.S. military combat casualties in Iraq in the past 24 hours. On Monday, two U.S. soldiers were killed and four wounded in separate incidents.
One soldier was killed and one wounded when armed militants ambushed an eight-vehicle Army supply convoy in northern Iraq. Also Monday, one soldier was killed and three injured when their Humvee struck a land mine or unexploded ordinance in what “appears to be a result of hostile action,” Central Command said in a statement.