MOSUL, Iraq – At least three U.S. soldiers were wounded and a local interpreter killed in a shooting at an Iraqi police station in the northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, the U.S. military said.
“Several soldiers were injured in the attack. However none were killed,” U.S. Colonel Bill Buckner told AFP, amid conflicting reports on the shootings.
But an interior ministry official in Baghdad said two policemen shot dead four U.S. soldiers and their local interpreter at the police station in central Mosul.
The official ruled out an insurgent attack, saying the assailants were known policemen from local tribes. He added that police and U.S. forces had launched a manhunt at their homes in and around Mosul.
The latest incident was the third of its kind in Mosul, one of the country’s most restive cities, involving American soldiers and Iraqi security forces in just over a year.
The U.S. military confirmed only the death of an Iraqi interpreter.
“At approximately 2 p.m. today there was a small arms attack on an IP (Iraqi police) station in Mosul. Coalition forces and Iraqi police were conducting a meeting at the time of the attack,” a statement said. “Initial reports indicate one Iraqi interpreter was killed in the attack.”
The interior ministry official, declining to be named, had told AFP: “Four U.S. soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter were killed by two Iraqi policemen who opened fire at them in the Dawasa district of (central) Mosul and then fled.”
The shootings took place during a U.S. army visit to the Mosul headquarters of the Iraqi police in charge of protecting the city’s bridges and tunnels, local police said.
The bullet-riddled body of the interpreter was taken to the local mortuary.
In Washington, the defence department said that four U.S. soldiers were wounded. But in its reports from Baghdad, the U.S. military also said three soldiers were hospitalized and that a second interpreter was injured.
“An investigation is ongoing to determine the cause and nature of the attack. This is an initial report,” it said.
On Nov. 12, an Iraqi soldier shot dead two U.S. soldiers before being shot dead himself. A similar incident took place in January 2007, when an Iraqi soldier opened fire on American troops, killing two U.S. soldiers.
U.S. and Iraqi forces operate together throughout the country. The United States has long said the training of Iraqi troops and police is a central part of its military strategy.