U.S.-Appointed Iraqi Council Leader Killed
By Anthony Shadid and Fred Barbash
Monday 10 November 2003
U.S. Soldier Killed in Separate Incident South of Baghdad
BAGHDAD, Nov. 10 -- Iraqis marched in anger through the streets here Monday after the killing of an American-appointed local Iraqi council leader by U.S. military guards under disputed circumstances.
Separately, the U.S. command here reported the death of an American military police officer who was attacked by a rocket propelled grenade while on patrol 40 miles south of Baghdad Sunday evening.
November -- only ten days old -- has now claimed 37 American lives. It's been the deadliest month since formal combat ceased in May.
The shooting of the Iraqi leader illustrated the inherently sensitive and increasingly tense relationship between the American occupiers here and Iraqis installed by the United States in official positions.
The council was appointed by U.S. authorities here to help govern Sadr City, an impoverished, largely Shiite section of Baghdad with a population of about 2 million people. American troops guard the council offices.
The council leader, Muhammed Kaabi, was approaching the council offices in a car Sunday.
American authorities and local witnesses agreed that he got into some sort of argument with soldiers who wanted to search the car he was driving. They agreed as well that at some point he got out of his car.
They disagree about what happened next, however. A U.S. spokesman here said the victim went for the weapon of one of the American guards and was shot by a second soldier in response.
"The driver continued to fight and wrestled the soldier to the ground while still attempting to pull the weapon from the soldier," a military statement reported by the Associated Press said.
"The other soldier shot the driver in the upper leg. The driver was evacuated to a nearby military hospital where he died of his wounds. The incident is under investigation."
Local witnesses said there was indeed a warning shot but reported no attempt by the leader to seize a weapon from the soldier.
Whatever the truth, the hundreds of mourners who carried the coffin through the streets draped with an Iraqi flag were blaming the Americans. They chanted and wailed and carried signs condemning the soldiers.
The level of violence against U.S. operations in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad prompted Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, to meet during the weekend with mayors and tribal leaders of Anbar province, the Associated Press reported this morning, quoting an Iraqi, Fallujah Mayor Taha Bedawi, who attended the meeting.
The Associated Press quoted Bedawi as saying that Abizaid pointed to Fallujah, one of the main towns in the Sunni Triangle, as a "hot area." Abizaid warned that if the city refuses to cooperate "in the rebuilding process," there "might be another policy."
The general did not specify the new measures, but told the local leaders in Saturday's meeting, "Irresponsible behavior such as explosions and strikes against coalition forces are prohibited and we will take measures. We have the capabilities and equipment," Bedawi told Associated Press.
Elsewhere, American authorities said U.S. forces seized nearly 1,000 rockets during weekend raids in Tikrit and Beiji, north of Baghdad, the 4th Infantry Division said Monday. Soldiers from the division's 3rd Brigade also confiscated 1,500 rounds of 155 mm artillery shells in Balad, south of Tikrit. Also, about 40 people were detained for various offenses in overnight patrols around Tikrit.