Helicopter shot down, killing one U.S. soldier
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents shot down a U.S. military helicopter west of Baghdad on Friday, killing one soldier, and attackers posing as journalists fired assault weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at American paratroopers guarding the burning aircraft, the military said.
Elsewhere, Arab gunmen shot and killed a Kurd amid rising ethnic tensions in the northern, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, and a minor Baath party official was assassinated in an apparent revenge killing. An American tanker was set ablaze in a rebel attack, and coalition forces raiding a Sunni Muslim mosque arrested 32 suspected non-Iraqi Arab insurgents and seized an arms cache.
In Baghdad, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said enemy fire likely brought down the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior that crashed near Fallujah, a flashpoint in the insurgency.
Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division “are fairly convinced that it was enemy fire,” Kimmitt said.
Soon after, five men “wearing black press jackets with ‘press’ clearly written in English” fired on U.S. paratroopers guarding the crash site, Kimmitt said. He said it was the first time he had heard of assailants in Iraq posing as journalists.
The attackers fled in two cars. Soldiers doing a sweep through the town, with helicopters circling overhead, tracked down one of the cars and arrested four “enemy personnel,” Kimmitt said.
Rebels have previously shot at and brought down U.S. helicopters elsewhere in the so-called “Sunni Triangle,” the heartland of Saddam Hussein’s support and a center of resistance to the U.S.-led occupation.
In the deadliest single attack on U.S. forces since the Iraq invasion began in March, 17 soldiers were killed when two Black Hawk helicopters collided above Mosul in what the military called a likely grenade attack.
In Baghdad, people protested outside the Ibn Taymiyyah mosque Friday after U.S. soldiers and Iraqi defense force officers raided the mosque overnight.
Kimmitt said they seized explosives, guns and ammunition and arrested 32 people believed to be non-Iraqi Arabs “based on their dialect.”
The military says foreign Islamic militants opposed to the occupation have infiltrated from neighboring borders.
In the northern city of Mosul, a minor Baath Party official and Saddam-appointed dean of political science of Mosul University, Adel Jabar Abid Mustafa, was found Thursday with two gunshots to his head, according to the dean’s brother, Salim Abid Mustafa.
Gunmen in Mosul have killed at least three judges appointed by Saddam’s regime, as well as officers in a new Iraqi police force formed by the U.S.-led occupation.