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US Forces Return Fire on Group of Armed Men, 7 Killed in Mosul - 2003-04-16

A spokesman for the U.S. Central Command has given a preliminary account of a shooting incident on Tuesday in Mosul in which at least seven people were killed. U.S. forces delivered what was termed, "lethal fire", on a group of individuals trying to storm a government building in the town.

Central Command spokesman Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said an initial investigation showed that special operations forces and U.S. Marines returned fire after they were fired upon by armed men in a group who were trying to assault a defensive position the troops had set up in a former municipal building.

"Fire was indeed delivered from coalition forces. It was lethal fire, and some Iraqis were killed as a result of that. We think the number was somewhere on the order of seven, and there may have been some wounded as well," General Brooks said.

He said the U.S. soldiers were attacked from two sides and the building they were in was fired upon.

Reports from Mosul quoting some of those wounded in the incident said the troops were not fired on. They said the Marines opened fire after the crowd began stoning a controversial Iraqi opposition figure, Mishaan al Jabouri, who had been speaking to the crowd and hailing the arrival of American forces in Mosul.

The general also gave a few details on the apprehension of Abu Abbas, a convicted Palestinian terrorist who masterminded the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship in 1985.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank have called for the release of Abu Abbas on the grounds that the 1993 Oslo peace accord signed with Israel specifies that those wanted for actions prior to that date would not be charged.

General Brooks said the coalition did the right thing by seizing him. "Abu Abbas is a terrorist. He was a terrorist. He remains a terrorist. He will be viewed as such," he said. "His role in terrorism, his links with terrorist organizations are abundantly clear, but perhaps what is more important is, he was found in Baghdad."

The Bush administration says the capture of Abu Abbas is proof of a link between the Saddam Hussein regime and terrorist organizations.