Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A familiar story

Canadians dispute details of Iraq shooting

U.S. officials didn't apologize Wednesday but said they're investigating a “regrettable” incident in which soldiers fired at a car carrying four Canadian diplomats in Baghdad.

Canadians are disputing a U.S. version of events, saying a military convoy fired at them without warning, with one bullet coming dangerously close. No one was injured.
“Our officials are clear that they were operating within the rules,” prime minister-designate Stephen Harper said in Ottawa. “Obviously, we'd like to make sure we deal with this and avoid such a situation in the future.”
U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he didn't know the details of the event Tuesday involving two convoys in the city's heavily fortified Green Zone.

But a military spokesman in Iraq said Wednesday the U.S. convoy “felt threatened” by a potential suicide-bomb attack after the Canadian vehicle came too close and ignored hand and arm signals to stay back.

“They felt they had to use warning shots,” said U.S. Lt.-Col. Barry Johnson, spokesman for the multinational force in Baghdad.

“Clearly, these warning shots weren't aimed at the occupants.”

A U.S. military statement said the shots were aimed “at the front of the vehicle, away from the passenger area.”

But one unnamed Canadian diplomat riding in the vehicle told CBC News a bullet entered the passenger compartment. She said the vehicle had kept a safe distance from the convoy and no one remembers any warnings from U.S. soldiers before there was a sudden explosion.

Congratulations on your big win last week, Mr. Harper. But you might want to give Mr. Blair and Mr. Berlusconi a call before you follow through on that pledge to strengthen ties with Washington.


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