Mazen al-Tumeizi, a Palestinian working for Al-Arabiya, one of the main Arab satellite television channels, was among 12 people – all believed to be civilians – killed in the incident on Haifa Street.
On Haifa Street, a main road in central Baghdad that has long been under the effective control of Saddam loyalists, there were several hours of gunfire during a United States mission to capture 21 men the Iraqi government described as terrorists.
A Bradley fighting vehicle was damaged by an apparent car bomb. A total of five American soldiers were wounded in the explosion and during the operation to evacuate the crew.
Later, a crowd of Iraqis gathered round the burning vehicle and some began dancing in celebration.
Tumeizi was describing the incident on camera when two helicopter gunships were seen flying down the street and opening fire. Tumeizi was hit by a bullet and doubled over, shouting: I'm dying, I'm dying.” About 50 people were wounded, the health ministry said, among them a Reuters cameraman and an Iraqi reporter for the Guardian.
Through the day, United States officers offered contradictory accounts of the incident and ordered an investigation.
“As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small arms fire from the insurgents in the vicinity of the vehicle,” said Major Philip Smith of the 1st Cavalry Division. “Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.”
However, witnesses said there were no Iraqi fighters in the area at the time.
Does the so-called Iraqi government have a view on this?
It doesn't really matter if this was policy or an error. Errors happen over time, and they have political consequences. We are gradually loosing territory on the ground in Iraq to various types of 'insurgents'. And I don't see how getting into bed with Baathists is helping us either.
We've seen this movie before, folks. It not only hurts while it's running, but it ends badly.
Here's a relatively mild Arab press version of the same incident,
US Missile Kills Journalist: Mazen Al-Tomaizi, a Palestinian television journalist working for Saudi news channel Al-Ekhbariya and Arab satellite channel Al-Arabiya, was killed yesterday by an American missile as he was reporting live from Baghdad on deadly clashes between US forces and insurgents.
Most of the young Iraqi men and boys mingling around the burning wreckage of the US tank were unfazed by the clattering of an American helicopter gunship overhead. Moments later they were under fire.
Some had pointed to the Apache helicopter. Others jogged slowly from the burning Bradley fighting vehicle. None expected it would shoot at them. “I didn’t imagine the helicopter would fire on the crowd,” Reuters cameraman Seif Fouad said from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from two shrapnel wounds. He had been recording the scene and was standing near Mazen.
“I looked at the sky and saw a helicopter at very low altitude,” Seif said. “Just moments later I saw a flash of light from the Apache. Then a strong explosion,” he said.
The first explosion sent Seif crashing to the ground. “Mazen’s blood was on my camera and face,” Seif said. Mazen screamed to Seif for help: “Seif, Seif! I’m going to die. I’m going to die.”
A second blast hit some 15 seconds later, lodging shrapnel in Seif’s leg and waist as he was trying to pull Mazen from harm’s way. Seif’s camera, its lens stained with blood, filmed the chaos. Reuters footage showed the crowd to be made up of unarmed boys and men, two of whom were standing on top of the Bradley.