Friday, June 2, 2006
Two women, one of them about to give birth, were shot dead by US forces as they rode in a car headed toward a maternity hospital in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, according to witnesses and Iraqi police Capt. Laith Mohammed.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the gunfire, according to the Associated Press. Jassim, a mother of two, was pregnant with her third child; doctors at a nearby hospital tried unsuccessfully to save the baby.
Khalid Nisaif Jassim told reporters that he was rushing his sister to the hospital for childbirth. “I was driving my car at full speed because I did not see any sign or warning from the Americans. It was not until they shot the two bullets that killed my sister and cousin that I stopped.
“God take revenge on the Americans and those who brought them here,” he added. “They have no regard for our lives.”
A US military statement released Friday disputed the account. “A local national sedan entered a clearly marked prohibited area near coalition troops at an observation post,” the statement read. “As the vehicle neared the troop location and failed to stop despite repeated visual and auditory signals, disabling shots were fired into the vehicle. The vehicle stopped, changed direction, and quickly departed the area.”
The e-mailed statement to the Associated Press also expressed regret for the loss of life, noting that “coalition forces go to great lengths to prevent them.”
The Washington Post reported that the women’s bodies were “wrapped in sheets and lying on stretchers outside the Samarra General Hospital before being taken to the morgue, while residents pointed to bullet holes on the windshield of a car and a pool of blood on the seat”.
The US military has increased the number of investigations into charges of misconduct against US troops, most notably following the alleged mass murder of as many as 24 civilians in the town of Haditha, west of Baghdad. Initially, 15 civilians and eight insurgents were reported dead in gunfire following a roadside bombing that killed a US Marine. Military spokesman Major-General William Caldwell said, “there are three or four (investigations) at least at this time” and that they are in “the first stages.”