US Soldiers Shot in Baghdad

A sniper and a close-range gunman have shot two United States soldiers in separate incidents here.

At least one other soldier was injured when an American vehicle hit an explosive device near the city’s airport – an area thought to have been cleared of landmines.

US Central Command in Qatar said that a soldier from the third infantry division was shot and killed by a sniper in the south-east of Baghdad on Thursday.

And Iraqi witnesses said another soldier was shot and possibly killed on a bridge south of Baghdad by a man who fired on him at close range before running away. The witnesses thought the soldier – said to be from the 2nd Armoured Cavalry Regiment – was killed, but this has not been confirmed by US military authorities.

A member of the US forces at Diyala new bridge told Reuters that one soldier was evacuated by a medical unit but gave no information on his condition.

In Washington, the US commander, General Tommy Franks, said the sniper attack showed that Iraq remained a dangerous environment, where US troops come under fire every day. Central Baghdad is still the scene of nightly gun battles as US outposts exchange fire with snipers or shoot to deter looters.

In another sign of growing insecurity, journalists have had to stop using the main exit route from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan, after several shootings on the road in recent days.

The Baghdad-Amman highway runs through Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland, where there is still considerable sympathy for Saddam Hussein.

Several press vehicles have been fired on along the route and at least one has been hit. There have been no reports of casualties.