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Helicopter Shot Down in Iraq, US Soldier Killed - 2004-01-02

The U.S. military in Iraq says enemy fire brought down one of its helicopters, killing an American crew member and wounding the other.

The deputy chief of military operations in Iraq, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, says insurgents on the ground fired at the Kiowa surveillance helicopter near the flashpoint town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad. He says it is not clear what kind of weapon they used, but it did enough damage to bring down the aircraft.

The general says another Kiowa flying in tandem with the downed chopper kept watch over the area, while paratroopers operating on the ground secured the crash site. While they were doing so, five people masquerading as journalists opened fire on the American troops. "The five enemy personnel pulled up to the crash site driving black and dark blue Mercedes," he said. "They were wearing black press jackets with press clearly written in English. The enemy personnel fired upon U.S. forces with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades."

General Kimmitt says the only American casualties came during the helicopter crash, not during the attack afterward. He says one of the Mercedes cars was tracked to a nearby house, where troops arrested four men who are now being questioned.