05 Jan 2004 19:14
U.S. frees Reuters, NBC staff detained in Iraq
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three Iraqis working for Reuters and one employed by the U.S. network NBC were released on Monday after being detained by American soldiers since last week.
Reuters made contact with its staff after their release and NBC confirmed its freelance journalist had also been freed.
The Reuters team -- Baghdad-based cameraman Salem Ureibi and a Falluja-based freelance cameraman and driver -- appeared shaken and exhausted after their three-day detention.
They were held near Falluja, west of Baghdad, on Friday close to where a U.S. Kiowa helicopter had earlier been shot down. One pilot was killed and the other was wounded in the crash.
Reuters driver Alaa Noury, who was working with the Reuters team near the crash site, said they had been fired on by U.S. troops earlier as they filmed in the area. They drove away at speed and were unhurt.
After they came under fire, Noury returned to Baghdad with the footage filmed at the scene. The rest of the Reuters team continued working nearby, before they were detained.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, the senior U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said on Friday guerrillas posing as journalists had fired on American paratroopers guarding the crash site and four were later detained.
On Sunday, he said an investigation was under way to ascertain exactly what happened in the incident.