Attack Spanish, Salvadoran Troops in Najaf
By Jim Garamone
Salvadorean soldier runs for cover as his base comes under
attack outside Kufa, 15 kms north of Najaf, Iraq, Sunday,
April 4,2004. Gunmen opened fire on the Spanish garrison
near the holy city of Najaf on Sunday during a huge demonstration
by followers of an anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric.
Gervasio Sanchez / AP
April 4, 2004
– Spanish and Salvadoran troops in Najaf came under attack
from gunmen hiding in a crowd of protesters, coalition officials
said in Baghdad today.
One El Salvadoran
soldier was killed, and 12 El Salvadoran soldiers and one U.S.
soldier were wounded when a large number of men, many dressed
in black, attacked a Coalition base with small-arms fire, said
a coalition news release. The wounded were transported to the
31st Combat Support Hospital for treatment.
forces – including U.S. Air Force aircraft and U.S. Army
gunships – responded to the attacks. The situation in Najaf
is now stabilized, senior military officials said in a background
briefing earlier in the day.
said the attacks began at about 11:45 a.m. Iraq time, when a vehicle
leaving an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps base came under small-arms
fire. From about noon to 2:30 p.m., the coalition base came under
attack from "a large number of personnel."
authorities said reports that hundreds of civilian casualties
resulted from the attacks were incorrect. "Any notion that
the Spanish fired on the protesters in the middle of a peaceful
demonstration would not be consistent with what we saw on the
ground," a senior military official said. Authorities indicated
they would have more information as officials in Najaf gather
did come as followers of anti-American Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada
al- Sadr marched on the compound reportedly in protest of a Sadr
A senior coalition
official said the coalition had detained the aide, Mustapha Yacoubi,
for the April 2003 murder of Shiite Ayatollah Sayed al Khoei –
one of Iraq’s leading advocates for human rights. Coalition forces
turned the accused man over to Iraqi officials. Yacoubi will be
tried by an Iraqi court.
in the day, Coalition Administrator Paul Bremer said that Iraqis
have gained their freedoms and have exercised their new rights
appropriately all over the country.
is welcome," he said. "But those freedoms must be exercised
peacefully. This morning a group of people in Najaf crossed the
line and they have moved to violence. This will not be tolerated.
This will not be tolerated by the coalition, this will not be
tolerated by the Iraqi people, and this will not be tolerated
by the Iraqi security forces."