For the second time this week, U.S. troops clashed with demonstrators in the small Iraqi town of Fallujah, near Baghdad. This as U.S. defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld continues his tour of the Middle East. Brian Purchia has more.
VOA Correspondent Laurie Kassman was on the scene of the latest shooting in Fallujah.
NATURAL SOUND - PEOPLE CHANTING
NATURAL SOUND - LAURIE KASSMAN, VOA CORRESPONDENT
“A small convoy of army vehicles passed on the street behind the demonstration, about six army vehicles. And they said that several shots were fired. It is not clear, at this point at the convoy and the convoy fired back. And the mayor of the town says now that there are at least two dead and 14 injured.”
The U.S. Central Command says the troops opened fire after Iraqi civilians throwing rocks and firing weapons attacked a U.S. military convoy.
NATURAL SOUND UNIDENTIFIED U.S. SOLDIER
“There were shots fired at us.”
The demonstrators were gathered outside a U.S. command post to protest an earlier shooting incident Monday in which at least 13 Iraqis were killed. The town of Fallujah is known to have been a stronghold of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, visiting Baghdad for the first time since U.S. troops ousted Iraqi leader, told the people of Iraq Wednesday in a taped message that the United States is eager to return the country to their control.
Secretary Rumsfeld also met with U.S. troops at the Baghdad airport.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY
“You’ve rescued a nation. Liberated a people. You’ve deposed a cruel dictator. And you have ended his threat to free nations.”
As for Saddam Hussein, an Arabic newspaper in London has published a letter it says could be from Saddam Hussein. It called on Iraqis to rise up against U.S. led forces, who ousted his regime. The paper quotes sources close to Saddam as saying the handwritten letter is authentic. But there has been no independent confirmation.