Reuters journalist killed by US forces in Iraq

A Reuters Television soundman was shot dead in Baghdad on Sunday and a cameraman who was wounded was still being questioned by U.S. troops 12 hours later.

Iraqi police said the two, both Iraqis, were shot by U.S. forces. A U.S. military spokesman said the incident was being investigated. The cameraman was being held and questioned because of "inconsistencies in his initial testimony," he added.

Waleed Khaled, 35, was hit by a shot to the face and at least four to the chest as he drove to check a report, called in to the Reuters bureau by a police source, of an incident involving police and gunmen in the western Hay al-Adil district.

"A team from Reuters news agency was on assignment to cover the killing of two policemen in Hay al-Adil; U.S. forces opened fire on the team from Reuters and killed Waleed Khaled, who was shot in the head, and wounded Haider Kadhem," an Interior Ministry official quoted the police incident report as saying.

Cameraman Kadhem, 24, who was wounded in the back, told colleagues at the scene: "I heard shooting, looked up and saw an American sniper on the roof of the shopping center."

The only known witness, he was later detained by the U.S. troops. For 10 hours, U.S. officers said they could not trace Kadhem. Finally a spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Whetstone, said he was being held at an unspecified location. His "superficial" wound had been treated "on location," he said, reports Reuters.

According to Aljazeera, U.S. military statement said: "Task Force Baghdad units responded to a terrorist attack on an Iraqi Police convoy around 11:20 a.m. (0720 GMT) ... which killed and wounded several Iraqi Police. One civilian was killed and another was wounded by small-arms fire during the attack."

U.S. troops gave Reuters staff a military body bag to carry the corpse, Reuters said.

"As Waleed's tearful relatives inspected the body at the scene, a U.S. soldier said: 'Don't bother. It's not worth it'. A few other soldiers joked among themselves just a few meters (feet) from the body", it added.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 52 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003. Also 21 media support staff, including drivers, translators, and security guards have been killed in the line of duty.

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