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Freed hostage Sgrena, says shooting "no accident"

Sunday, March 6, 2005 Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena has suggested that it was "no accident" when US troops shot at her car, resulting in the death of an Italian intelligence officer who had helped to secure her release from captivity earlier that day.

Speaking to the press at the Rome hospital where she is being treated for a gunshot wound to her shoulder, she said, "It can't be just said that it was just an accident. We can't accept this, it is not possible."

Sgrena's suggestion is being reinforced by her partner, Pier Scolari who said "I hope the Italian government does something because either this was an ambush, as I think, or we are dealing with imbeciles or terrorized kids who shoot at anyone,"

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at a press conference in Rome today looked visibly angry and said "I immediately invited the American ambassador to come speak with me, to clarify the actions of the American military for such a grave accident that someone is going to have to take responsibility for,"

Sgrena claims that Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was fatally hit when he moved in front of her in the car after the soldiers opened fire on the group.

"It wasn't a checkpoint, but a patrol that started shooting after pointing some lights in our direction," the Ansa news agency cited Sgrena as telling prosecutors. "We hadn't previously encountered any checkpoint, and we didn't understand where the shots came from." The New York Times quotes Sgrena as stating that, "There was no bright light, no signal."

The London Observer reported, "Sgrena told colleagues the vehicle was not travelling fast and had already passed several checkpoints on its way to the airport. The Americans shone a flashlight at the car and then fired between 300 and 400 bullets at if from an armoured vehicle. Rather than calling immediately for assistance for the wounded Italians, the soldiers' first move was to confiscate their weapons and mobile phones and they were prevented from resuming contact with Rome for more than an hour."

The US military said in a statement: "About 2100 [1800 GMT], a patrol in western Baghdad observed the vehicle speeding towards their checkpoint and attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block, which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others."

American soldiers have had been victims of suicide car-bomb attacks in the past. On December 4, 2004, two cars exploded next to a checkpoint at the Green Zone in Baghdad, killing 16 and wounding dozens. On December 13, another car exploded in Baghdad killing 13.

Sgrena had been held captive for a month by Iraqi rebels. She works for the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto, founded by the former leader of Communist Youth Luciana Castellina[1] [2]. The paper has been characterized by the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista as a "communist daily" that has been "engaged against the war [in Iraq]."

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