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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Troops Kill Reuters Cameraman

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A Reuters cameraman was shot dead by U.S. troops and journalism watchdogs called Monday for an investigation into his death. The military offered condolences but said its soldiers were in not in a position to fire warning shots.

Mazen Dana's death on Sunday sent a chill through the hundreds-strong community of journalists covering the U.S. fight against Iraqi guerrillas.

"I am deeply saddened to report the death of another Reuters journalist in Iraq -- once again at the hands of U.S. troops," Reuters Chief Executive Officer Tom Glocer said in a statement.

The New York-base Committee to Protect Journalists and Paris-based Reporters Without Borders demanded that Washington launch a full investigation into the shooting, and a public accounting of the circumstances that led to the death of Dana, the 43-year-old Reuters television cameraman killed by U.S. forces Sunday.

Dana was the second Reuters cameraman -- and the 17th news organization employee -- to die since the war began on March 20. Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk died April 8 after a U.S. tank fired at the Palestine hotel in Baghdad as U.S. troops took the city.

The U.S. military recently absolved U.S. forces of wrongdoing in that incident, saying they fired in self-defense. Witnesses said there was no gunfire from the hotel when a U.S. tank opened fire.

"Coming so soon after the death of Taras Protsyuk, also killed by a U.S. tank -- this latest death is hard to bear," Glocer said. "That's why I am personally calling upon the highest levels of the U.S. government for a full and comprehensive investigation into this terrible tragedy."

His words were echoed in a statement issued by Reporters Without Borders demanding that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld deliver an inquiry that is "honest, rapid and designed to shed full light on this tragedy, not whitewash the U.S. Army."

The top U.S. military spokesman offered condolences to the Dana's family but said U.S. troops would not fire warning shots when they felt threatened.

"I can't give you details on the rules of engagement, but the enemy is not in formations, they are not wearing uniforms. During war time, firing a warning shot is not a necessity. There is no time for a warning shot if there is potential for an ambush," Lieutenant Colonel Guy Shields told a news briefing. He was bombarded with questions about the Sunday shooting of Dana, a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Hebron.

Dana, described by Reuters as one of its best cameramen and who had won several awards for his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was killed by U.S. tank forces outside the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad.

The military said the soldiers believed Dana's camera was a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. His last pictures, shown repeatedly on satellite television broadcasts seen in Baghdad, showed two tanks approaching. The nearest appeared to be about 50 meters away when six shots rang out and the camera fell to the ground from Dana's shoulder. Dana was believed to have been killed by the first shot, which penetrated his chest and left a huge exit wound in his back.

"I saw Mazen. He screamed one time, and he was putting his hand on his chest and fell down on the ground and started screaming," said Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was working with Dana as a sound technician. "I saw him bleeding. I looked I saw the American soldiers around us, and I screamed to the same soldier who shot him, 'Why did you shoot him? We are TV. You see him with a camera, why did you shoot him?"'

The cameraman was videotaping at the prison a day after suspected guerrilla forces fired mortars into the jail, killing six inmates and wounding about 60.

No gunshots had been heard in the area, which reportedly was calm before the military opened fire, Al-Shyoukhi said.

"I don't understand why they start shooting at us. It was his last day in Baghdad, he was supposed to go to Amman [in neighboring Jordan], meet with his wife and children for a wedding of his nephew in Amman."

Also on Monday, many neighborhoods in the north of Baghdad remained without water a day after a bomb blew an enormous hole in a 1.5 meter water main from reservoirs further north.

Huge fires burned in warehouses in northeast Baghdad where a guard said 50 gunmen had charged past him, looting spare parts from buses and other state vehicles and setting fires in old tires and buses. Mohammed Jabber said a U.S. Army patrol passed the area about 30 minutes later but took no action.

U.S. troops killed two Iraqis in two separate incidents late Sunday, Lieutenant Colonel William MacDonald said. In the first, soldiers shot dead a looter southeast of Tikrit after he disregarded warning shots. Another Iraqi was shot and died when his car ran a checkpoint north of Baghdad.