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2 U.S. troops killed during aid mission

A man wearing an Iraqi army uniform opens fire on a group handing out blankets.

November 26, 2008|ASSOCIATED PRESS

BAGHDAD — Two American servicemen were killed Tuesday when a gunman wearing an Iraqi army uniform opened fire as they were distributing humanitarian aid in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.

It was the third such shooting in the Mosul area in less than a year purportedly involving Iraqi soldiers, raising concern about infiltration of the Iraqi security forces in one of the country's most dangerous areas.

The shooting, southwest of Mosul near the Syrian border, came on the eve of a parliament vote on a pact that would allow American troops to remain in Iraq for three more years. Iraq's government says its police and army are not ready to maintain security on their own.

The attack killed a Marine and a soldier on a transition team working with the Iraqis, a military statement said. Two Marines and three Iraqi civilians were wounded, it said.

"The attack appears to have been unprovoked," Army Col. Bill Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman, was quoted as saying.

He said it was unknown whether the attacker was an Iraqi soldier or an insurgent in disguise, saying an investigation was underway. The statement said another man also was involved.

Other U.S. military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said the gunman was in Iraqi army custody and appeared to be a soldier.

American troops and Iraqi soldiers were handing out blankets near Baaj, a mainly Sunni Arab area, when the midday attack occurred, one of the officials said. The gunman apparently fired from at least 50 yards away.

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