Ambush in heart of the Sunni triangle
IN AN unprecedented orgy of violence, jubilant Iraqis yesterday killed four Americans, set fire to their bodies and dragged the charred corpses through the streets before hanging two of them from a bridge.
The savage scenes, captured by a television cameraman in the town of Fallujah, were reminiscent of Somalia in 1993, when a mob dragged the corpse of a United States soldier through the streets of Mogadishu, actions that eventually led to US withdrawal from the African nation.
But the White House last night pledged to remain in Iraq, blaming terrorists and remnants of Saddam Hussein’s former regime for the "horrific attacks".
"It is offensive, it is despicable the way these individuals have been treated," said Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary. "We hope everybody acts responsibly in their coverage of it."
The brutal treatment of the four corpses came after they were killed in a rebel attack on their 4x4 vehicles. Witnesses said the two vehicles were attacked with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
Chanting "Fallujah is the cemetery of Americans", residents cheered after the assault on the vehicles, which left both in flames. Others chanted: "We sacrifice our blood and souls for Islam."
Television footage showed one man beating a charred corpse with a metal pole. Others tied a yellow rope to a body, hooked it to a car and dragged it down the main street.
Two blackened and mangled corpses were hanged from a green iron bridge across the Euphrates river.
The city has been the scene of some of the worst violence on both sides of the conflict since the US occupation began last year.
Five US soldiers were also killed yesterday in a roadside bombing near Fallujah, on one of the bloodiest days this year for the coalition governing Iraq. Defence officials said the soldiers were from the army’s 1st Infantry Division and were in an M-113 armoured personnel carrier.
North-east of Baghdad, in the city of Baqouba, a suicide bomber blew up explosives in his car when he was near a convoy of government vehicles, wounding 14 Iraqis and killing himself.
The attacked convoy is normally used to transport Abdullah al-Joubori, the Diala provincial governor, but he was elsewhere at the time, said police Colonel Ali Hossein.
In Baghdad, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said the victims of the Fallujah attacks were contractors working with the coalition.
The Scotsman learned from security sources last night that the four killed included former special forces soldiers working for the bodyguard firm protecting Paul Bremer, Iraq’s administrator.
At least two are understood to have worked for Blackwater Security, a top US private security company. Their staff, drawn mainly from former US special forces, provide top-level armed escorts for Mr Bremer and other coalition employees.
In a statement to The Scotsman, a spokesman for the company said: "Early information indicates that Blackwater staff may have been the target of attacks."
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