Around midday Sunday, U.S. soldiers on a tank shot Dana, who was filming outside the U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Senior U.S. military officials said U.S. troops mistook him for an Iraqi guerilla, suspecting that Dana was pointing a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher at them.
Dana’s final footage showed a U.S. tank coming toward him outside the prison walls. Several shots were fired, apparently from the tank, and then Dana’s camera fell to the ground. He was carried away by U.S. helicopters for medical treatment, U.S. military officials said.
“This is clearly another tragic incident, it is extremely regrettable,” Central Command spokesman Sgt. Major Lewis Matson told news agencies.
The U.S. military in Iraq said an investigation was under way, but officials could not confirm whether U.S. forces fired the shots that killed Dana.
“Coalition forces engaged an individual in the vicinity of the Abu Ghraib prison..The individual was later identified as a reporter,” Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman told Reuters in Washington.
A group of journalists, including Dana, had traveled to the Abu Ghraib prison to cover a mortar attack that killed six Iraqis and injured 59 others shortly before midnight Saturday.
Three shells were fired into the Abu Ghraib prison compound, where prisoners — many suspected of involvement in the insurgency against U.S. forces or of being members of Saddam Hussein’s regime — were being held in tents, The New York Times reported.
Reuters quoted a colleague who was working alongside Dana, soundman Nael al-Shyoukhi, as saying U.S. soldiers outside the prison knew who they were and what they were doing there. He said one U.S. soldier gave them permission to film an overview of the facility.
The 43-year-old Palestinian cameraman received the International Press Freedom Award in 2001 for his work covering conflict in his hometown of Hebron in the West Bank.
Dana had survived being shot at least three times in 2000 while reporting on the conflict in Palestinian territories.
“Mazen was one of Reuters finest cameramen and we are devastated by his loss,” said Stephen Jukes, Reuters global head of news.
Reuters Chief Executive Tom Glocer says he hopes there will be a full investigation into Dana’s death.
Dana leaves behind his wife and four young children.