[Media-watch] Massacre of Iraqi army recruits - BBCnews - 24/10/2004

Julie-ann Davies jadavies2004 at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Oct 24 14:32:49 BST 2004


 Last Updated: Sunday, 24 October, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK

 Massacre of Iraqi army recruits
 The bodies of more than 40 Iraqi army recruits have been found following an 
ambush near the Iranian border in the north-east of the country.
Police said there were signs many of the soldiers had been executed.

Hours later, a US diplomat was killed in a mortar attack at Camp Victory 
near Baghdad airport.

Ed Seitz, assistant regional security officer at the US embassy in Baghdad, 
is believed to be the first US diplomat killed during the current war.

Police said the bodies of the recruits were found by a road near the village 
of Mandali, south of Baquba.

"This was an execution. We found the dead lying face down by the roadside 
with a single bullet wound to the head," Iraqi national guard commander Ali 
al-Kaaki, quoted by the AFP news agency.

A local police official said that all had their hands crossed behind their 

Well-organised force

The BBC's Clare Marshall in Baghdad says the recruits were believed to have 
just finished a training course at a camp near the Iranian border.

They were ambushed as they travelled along a remote road in several 
minibuses at sunset on Saturday.

According to some reports they were stopped at a fake checkpoint and 
militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicles.

A senior security official quoted by the Reuters news agency said the 
soldiers were unarmed and wearing civilian clothes.

"It appears that they were ambushed by a large, well-organised force with 
good intelligence," he added.

The precise number of dead is unclear. Ali al-Kaaki told AFP there were 43 
recruits and five civilian drivers. Other reports spoke of 51 bodies.

Reports suggest that the recruits were mainly from Shia cities in the south 
of Iraq, including Basra, Amara, Kut and Nasiriya, and were returning there 
after training in the desert camp.

Headless body

Correspondents say Iraq's fledgling security forces are a prime target for 
militant groups.

On Saturday, 20 Iraqi policemen were killed and 47 wounded in two separate 
suicide car bombing attacks.

In separate developments on Sunday, US planes bombed suspected guerrilla 
positions in Falluja, western Iraq, killing five people, witnesses told 

Witnesses said the victims were civilians but the US military said it was a 
"precision" strike on a known enemy command and control position.

The US military believe Falluja, which has been pounded on a daily basis in 
the last few weeks, is the stronghold of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab 
al-Zarqawi, whose group has carried out several kidnappings and beheadings.

Also on Sunday, police said they had found the headless body of a man 
wearing a business suit in the river Tigris, near the northern city of 

Three other bodies, believed to be those of Iraqis working for the US 
forces, have been recovered in the same area over the past two months.
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