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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Oh My God

From the AP, horror in Ramadi. This is still developing, but if true....

U.S. Reportedly Kills 40 Iraqis at Party

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party early Wednesday in western Iraq, killing more than 40 people, Iraqi officials said. The U.S. military said it could not confirm the report and was investigating.

Lt. Col Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of the city of Ramadi, said between 42 and 45 people died in the attack, which took place about 2:45 a.m. in a remote desert area near the border with Syria and Jordan. He said those killed included 15 children and 10 women.

Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi, put the death toll at 45.

Associated Press Television News obtained videotape showing a truck containing bodies of those allegedly killed.

About a dozen bodies, one without a head, could be clearly seen. but it appeared that bodies were piled on top of each other and a clear count was not possible.

It is common practice in Arab culture (and many other cultures as well) to fire off guns in the air during celebrations. It should be common knowledge, as well, to any foreign soldier who finds him or herself on stationed on Arab soil. In fact, the account of this tragedy at the wedding shows that there were rifles fired into the air, US troops came by to investigate and left, seemingly satisfied that nothing untoward was going on. Then the helicopters came.

In case you're feeling deja vu, it's understandable. From July of 2002:

A US airstrike that killed dozens of guests at a wedding party in Afghanistan in July was justified, a US military investigation has concluded. Its report says people at the party in central Afghanistan's Uruzgan province who fired at US aircraft were to blame, not the American pilots who returned the fire........The Afghan Government says 48 civilians - mostly women and children - were killed and 117 injured by the US AC-130 aircraft during the incident, which severely strained relations between Washington and Kabul.......The Afghan officials and survivors of the incident say the only gunfire from the area came from the guests who fired their rifles in celebration.

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