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Old 03-04-2005, 03:03 PM   #1
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U.S. Forces Wound Freed Hostage in Iraq

[q]U.S. Forces Wound Freed Hostage in Iraq

32 minutes ago

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By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - American troops fired on a car rushing Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to freedom on Friday after a month in captivity, killing the Italian intelligence officer who helped negotiate her release and wounding the reporter.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, an ally of the United States who has kept Italian troops in Iraq (news - web sites) despite public opposition at home, demanded an explanation "for such a serious incident, for which someone must take the responsibility."

The U.S. military said the car was speeding as it approached a coalition checkpoint in western Baghdad at 8:55 p.m. It said soldiers shot into the engine block only after trying to warn the driver to stop by "hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots."

The Americans said two people were wounded, but Berlusconi said there were three — Sgrena and two intelligence officers. One of the officers was in serious condition with an apparent lung injury, according to the Apcom news agency in Italy. The U.S. military said Army medics treated a wounded man but that "he refused medical evacuation for further assistance."

The intelligence agent was killed when he threw himself over Sgrena to protect her from U.S. fire, Apcom quoted Gabriele Polo, the editor of the leftist Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, as saying. Sgrena worked for Il Manifesto.

Berlusconi identified the dead intelligence officer as Nicola Calipari and said he had been at the forefront of negotiations with the kidnappers. The prime minister said Calipari had been involved in the release of other Italian hostages in Iraq in the past.

U.S. troops took Sgrena to an American military hospital, where shrapnel was removed from her left shoulder.

Sgrena, 56, was abducted Feb. 4 by gunmen who blocked her car outside Baghdad University. Last month, she was shown in a video pleading for her life and demanding that all foreign troops — including Italian forces — leave Iraq.

Berlusconi said he had been celebrating Sgrena's release with the editor of Il Manifesto, and with Sgrena's boyfriend, Pier Scolari, when he took a phone call from an agent who informed them of the shooting.

"It's a shame that the joy we all felt was turned into tragedy," Berlusconi said.

The shooting came as a blow to Berlusconi, who has kept 3,000 troops in Iraq despite strong opposition in Italy. The shooting was likely to set off new protests in Italy, where tens of thousands have regularly turned out on the streets to protest the Iraq war. Sgrena's newspaper was a loud opponent of the war.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said "details are still unclear" but "we regret the loss of life."

"We are coordinating closely with Italian authorities in Iraq to investigate the incident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the Italian citizen," McClellan said.

In a 2003 friendly-fire incident involving Italians, American soldiers in northern Iraq shot at a car carrying the Italian official heading up U.S. efforts to recover Iraq's looted antiquities. Pietro Cordone, the top Italian diplomat in Iraq, was unhurt, but his Iraqi translator was killed.

Cordone, also the senior adviser for cultural affairs of the U.S. provisional authority, was traveling on the road between Mosul and Tikrit when his car was fired on at a U.S. roadblock, according to an Italian Foreign Ministry official.

The circumstances of Sgrena's release were unclear.

The Italian government announced earlier Friday that Sgrena had been freed, prompting expressions of joy and relief from officials and her family.

Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini expressed "great joy and enormous satisfaction," the ANSA news agency said.

The reporter's father was so overwhelmed by the news that he needed assistance from a doctor, ANSA said. "This is an exceptional day," Franco Sgrena was quoted as saying.

At Il Manifesto's offices, reporters toasted the release with champagne.

On Feb. 19, tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through Rome waving rainbow peace flags to press for Sgrena's release. Il Manifesto and Sgrena's boyfriend organized the march.

About 200 foreigners have been abducted in Iraq in the past year, and more than 30 of the hostages were killed.

Another European reporter, Florence Aubenas, a veteran war correspondent for France's leftist daily Liberation, is still being held in Iraq. Aubenas and her interpreter, Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, disappeared nearly two months ago.

Also Friday, two members of the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance dropped out of the political group because of its inability to carve out a deal for a new prime minister after historic Jan. 30 elections.

The alliance took 140 of the 275 seats in the National Assembly, the body charged with writing a new constitution. But it needs support from other parties to muster the required two-thirds majority to insure control of top posts in the new government.

The members who dropped out included one of its more well-known supporters, Abdul-Karim Mahmoud al-Mohammedawi. Dubbed "Prince of the Marshes," al-Mohammedawi led the resistance movement against Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) in the southern marsh region. The other was Ali Hashim al-Youshaa, one of the alliance's leaders.


Associated Press writer Angela Doland contributed to this report from Rome. [/q]

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Old 03-04-2005, 03:06 PM   #2
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shit happens

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Old 03-04-2005, 03:08 PM   #3
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yes and I think it is a sad story.
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:34 PM   #4
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of thousands?
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Old 03-05-2005, 09:56 AM   #5
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My Italian in-laws can't stand Berluscone, and this isn't likely to change their opinion of the guy or his policies.
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