'I watched as the bomb left the plane'
JOHN SIMPSON IN ARBIL, NORTHERN IRAQ
The Scotsman - 7 April:
THIS is just a scene from hell here. All the vehicles on fire. There are bodies burning around me, there are bodies lying around, there are bits of bodies on the ground. This is a really bad own goal by the United States.
We don’t really know how many Americans are dead. There is ammunition exploding, in fact, from some of these cars.
A very senior member of the Kurdish Republic’s government also may have been injured.
The officer in charge of the US special forces saw an Iraqi tank in the plain about a mile away from us. I think it was firing in our direction and he called in an air strike to deal with the tank.
I saw two F15 US planes circling quite low overhead and I had a bad feeling about it because they seemed to be closer to us than they were to the tank.
As I was looking at them - this must sound extraordinary, but I assure you it is true - I saw the bomb coming out of one of the planes and I saw it as it came down beside me. It was painted white and red.
It crashed into the ground about ten or 12 metres from where I was standing.
It took the lower legs off Kamaran [Abdurazaq Muhamed], our translator. I got shrapnel in parts of my body. I would have got a chunk of shrapnel in my spine had I not been wearing a flak jacket - it was buried deep in the Kevlar when I checked it.
Our producer had a piece of shrapnel an inch long taken out of his foot. But apart from that and ruptured eardrums, which is painful but not serious, and a few punctures from shrapnel, the rest of us were all right.
But our translator was killed, and he was a fine man.
I think what probably happened was that there was a burned-out Iraqi tank at the crossroads and I suspect that either the pilots got the navigational details wrong, which is possible, or I think it is probably more likely one of them saw the burned-out Iraqi tank, assumed that was what was to be hit, and dropped the bomb.
The planes circled round. I shouted out at the US special forces: "Tell them to go away, tell them it’s us. Don’t let them drop another bomb." It was a mistake. They were so apologetic afterwards, as you can imagine.
The medics did what they could for all of us. And they kept on saying: "I am really sorry about this", as though it was their fault.
But these things happen if you are fighting a war. Mistakes happen.
John Simpson is the BBC’s world affairs editor.