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WikiLeaks Iraq video shows U.S. soldiers killing civilians, including 2 Reuters staff

Updated: 06 Apr 2010
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A horrific video showing the American soldiers shooting dead civilians in Iraq before laughing at their bodies has been leaked online.

The footage - which emerged on website WikiLeaks - shows US forces firing repeatedly on a group of men, some of whom are unarmed.

Among those believed killed in that attack was Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Saeed Chmagh, 40. Two children were also wounded during the incident in Baghdad.

 

Horrific: Part of the footage shows the Reuters journalists seconds before they were shot dead by US troops

 

Opening fire: The helicopter opens fire on the group, which included two Reuters staff, and laughed as they hit the men

 

Last night, a US military spokeman confirmed that the gritty footage was authentic.

WikiLeaks said it acquired encrypted video of the attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code.

The website added that the video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, showed a firefight in the New Baghdad district of the city on July 12, 2007.

The video, with an audio track of talking between the flyers, shows an aerial view of a group of men moving about a square in a Baghdad neighbourhood. The flyers identify some of the men as armed and claim they are holding AK47s and an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade).

WikiLeaks said the men in the square include Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, who were killed in the incident.

 

Rescue: A van which has stopped to help the injured men comes under U.S. fire

 

'The gathering at the corner that is fired upon has about nine people in it,' Julian Assange, a WikiLeaks spokesman said.

The gunsight tracks the two Reuters news staff as the flyers identify their cameras as weapons.

The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire.

One of the crew shouts: 'Hahaha. I hit 'em'. Another responds a little later: 'Oh yeah, look at those dead b*****ds.'

One of the men on the ground, believed to be the driver Chmagh, is seen wounded and trying to crawl to safety.

One of the helicopter crew is heard wishing for the man to reach for a gun so he has a reason for opening fire, and says: 'All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.'

Minutes later a van comes by, and starts assisting the wounded, and the helicopter opens fire. Sitting behind the windscreen are two children.

After ground forces arrive and the children are discovered, the American air crew blame the Iraqis.

'Well it's their fault for bringing kids in to a battle,' says one.

 

Clean-up: Soldiers on the ground move in and discover children have been injured

 

Blame: A U.S. military assessment of the incident said the attack was justified

 

David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor in chief, said of the video released by WikiLeaks that the deaths of Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh were 'tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones'.

'The video released today via WikiLeaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result,' he said.

Reuters has pressed the U.S. military to conduct a full and objective investigation into the killing of the two staff.

Video of the incident from two U.S. Apache helicopters and photographs taken of the scene were shown to Reuters editors in Baghdad on July 25, 2007, in an off-the-record briefing.

U.S. military officers who presented the materials said Reuters had to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get copies. This request was made the same day.

Mr Assange said he disagreed with a U.S. military assessment of the incident that the attack was justified.

'I believe that if those killings were lawful under the rules of engagement, then the rules of engagement are wrong, deeply wrong,' he said.

'Why would anyone be so relaxed with two Apaches if someone was carrying an RPG and that person was an enemy of the United States?" he said.

The flyers in the video act 'like they are playing a computer game and their desire is they want to get high scores' by killing opponents, he added.

WikiLeaks posted the video at mhttp://www.collateralmurder.org.

 

SOURCE: www.dailymail.co.uk

 

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