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Helicopter 'Probably Shot Down', says US Official - 2004-01-10

A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad says a U.S. medical helicopter, which crashed on Thursday, was probably shot down.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told reporters Saturday the investigation into the crash of the Black Hawk helicopter has not been concluded, but he said preliminary reports indicate it was downed by hostile ground fire.

The helicopter was on a routine medical mission Thursday when it crashed near the town of Fallujah, killing all nine personnel on-board.

Local witnesses had reported seeing the helicopter on fire before it crashed. Fallujah has been a center of anti-coalition violence.

In the northern city of Kirkuk, the U.S. military confirmed that American troops mistakenly shot dead two Iraqi policemen late Friday. A military spokeswoman said the soldiers mistook the policemen for assailants.

Also Saturday, some Iraqis expressed disappointment that Saddam Hussein has been granted "prisoner of war" status by the United States. At least one member of Iraq's Governing Council said Iraqis should be allowed to decide Saddam's fate.