Saturday, March 05, 2005

The rescue of Giuliana Sgrena runs afoul of US military shooters 

Great joy over the news that Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena is free after a month of captivity in Baghdad turned to great sadness at the news that US troops fired upon the vehicle carrying her, Nicola Calipari, the Italian intelligence agent who secured her release, and two other Italian agents to the airport, killing Calipari and wounding Sgrena and the two others.

According to Sgrena's newspaper, Il Manifesto, Calipari was killed when he threw himself over Sgrena to shield her from the gunfire. She was hit in the left should by shrapnel and was treated at a US military hospital.

In a statement released by the US Army's Third Infantry Division in Baghdad, the soldiers did not know Sgrena was in the vehicle, which, they said, was approaching a checkpoint near the airport at a high rate of speed and failed to respond to signals and warning shots to stop, leading them to stop the vehicle by firing at its engine block.

There are many questions about who abducted Sgrena from in front of a Baghdad mosque on Feb. 4, where she had gone to conduct an interview, and now there are many more about yesterday's incident.

As Dario De Judicibus wrote yesterday, from Italy, in a letter to the editor:

“Giuliana Sgrena was freed today by Italian intelligence. No blitz was necessary, no guns, no force.

“BUT . . .

“While Sgrena was going to the Baghdad Airport with three agents of Italian Intelligence, America soldiers fired on the car. One of the agents protected Sgrena with his body. He was killed by American fire. Sgrena and the other two agents were injured. The agents had no weapons. A happy ending was transformed into a tragedy.

“In Italy we still do not understand if the USA sent to Iraq a ‘professional' army. It is hard to think to those guys as professionals. We have many soldiers there; but we are there to help, not to fire on anybody who is moving, allies included.”

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