|From The Oregonian, oregonlive.com
Iraqi soldier kills 2 American troops
1/5/2008, 6:10 a.m. PT
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA
The Associated Press
BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi soldier allegedly shot dead two American
troops while they were patrolling together north of the capital, the
U.S. military and an Iraqi official said Saturday. The Iraqi official
said the suspect has links to militant groups.
Three other U.S. soldiers and a civilian interpreter were wounded in the
Dec. 26 attack, the military said in a statement. The shooting occurred
as American and Iraqi soldiers were trying to establish a combat outpost
in Ninevah province in northern Iraq.
According to Brig. Mutaa Habib Jassim al-Khazrachi, commander of the
Iraqi army's 2nd Division, an initial investigation has indicated that
the Iraqi soldier has links to local militant groups.
Al-Khazrachi said the shooting occurred in eastern Mosul as American and
Iraqi troops were in a firefight with gunmen.
The Iraqi soldier who allegedly opened fire fled but was identified by
other Iraqi army personnel and captured, the military said. Two Iraqi
soldiers are being held in connection with the shooting, the statement
The U.S. military identified the two Americans killed as Capt. Rowdy
Inman and Sgt. Benjamin Portell, both assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd
Armored Cavalry Regiment.
Portell, 27, was from Bakersfield, Calif., and Inman, 38, was from
Panorama Village, Texas. Both were stationed at Fort Hood in Texas.
U.S. and Iraqi investigations are under way, the military said.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, offered his strongest public
support to date for U.S.-backed Sunni Arab groups that have joined the
fight against al-Qaida, promising to integrate a "large
number" of them in the security forces.
The comments, in an interview published Saturday in the London-based
Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, came as the Shiite prime minister returned
to Iraq after spending a week in London for what his office had
described as a routine medical checkup.
In the interview, al-Maliki said: "A large number of them (Sunni
groups) will be integrated by the police and army according to health,
age, academic qualifications and criminal and security records." He
gave no details, but his government has said only 20,000 members of
Sunni militias will be absorbed in security forces.
"They contributed to security and we will continue to support them
in this respect."
Al-Maliki dismissed as "deliberate distortions" reports that
his government was opposed to the Sunni groups, but added that he wanted
to protect them against infiltration.
No official information has been released about the medical checks he
underwent in London. But one of his advisers, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said he traveled to Britain after falling ill, but that the
checkup revealed no problems.
"I am in good health. I will resume work directly," al-Maliki
told reporters at the airport. "We will proceed with our process of
At the time of his departure on Dec. 29, an adviser to al-Maliki, Yassin
Majeed, had said the prime minister had delayed a previous trip because
the "security situation did not allow it."
On Saturday, a roadside bomb struck a passing minibus north of the town
of Muqdadiyah, about 56 miles north of Baghdad, killing six people, said
an official in the joint coordination center of Diyala province —
which remains one of Iraq's most violent areas. The official spoke on
condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the
In the province's capital, Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad,
another roadside bomb wounded three civilians, police said.
The city has seen several attacks recently, and on Friday a one-day
vehicle ban was imposed on the city because of "increased violent
events during last week," said Baqouba police chief Brigadier Hasan
al-Obaidi. The ban also was aimed at protecting worshippers going to
mosques for Friday prayers.
Despite continuing daily attacks across the country, violence has fallen
significantly in the country — by 60 percent since June, the U.S.
One indication of the improvement in security was the reopening of the
Samarra dam bridge, one of the entrances into the city some 60 miles
north of Baghdad, on Thursday, the U.S. military said in a statement.
Entrances into the city had been closed for about eight months due to
the violence. "Commerce into and within the city stopped. The
reopening of the bridge and other entry points is a direct result of
improving security," the statement said.
Associated Press Writer Hamid Ahmed contributed to this report