Tuesday, April 8
U.S. Bombing Raid Kills Three Journalists
Associated Press, April 8, 2003
BAGHDAD, Iraq — U.S.-led military strikes in the Iraqi capital Tuesday hit the hotel housing hundreds of journalists and an Arab television network, killing three journalists and injuring three others.
Two Arabic-language television networks said their offices were intentionally targeted by American-led forces — claims military officials denied.
"This coalition does not target journalists," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said in Qatar.
An American tank fired on the Palestine Hotel early Tuesday, where foreign journalists have been covering the war from balconies and the roof.
Less than a mile away, a reporter for Al-Jazeera television was killed when U.S.-led forces bombed his office. Nearby, coalition artillery battered the Baghdad office of Abu Dhabi television, trapping more than 25 reporters who phoned for help from the basement.
"I'm astonished and shocked," said Art Bourbon, news director of Abu Dhabi, speaking from the network's headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. "We've been in this office for more than 2 years. Anyone going into military operations would have known our location."
Al-Jazeera chief editor Ibrahim Hilal said the U.S. military has long known the map coordinates and street number of his network's office. Witnesses "saw the plane fly over twice before dropping the bombs. Our office is in a residential area, and even the Pentagon knows its location," Hilal said in Qatar.
Military officials offered different explanations for the attacks.
Brooks initially said the hotel was targeted after soldiers were fired on from the lobby. Later, he told reporters, "I may have misspoken."
U.S. Army Col. David Perkins, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade, which deployed the tank, said Iraqis in front of the hotel fired rocket-propelled grenades across the Tigris River. Soldiers fired back with a tank round aimed at the Palestine Hotel after seeing enemy "binoculars," Perkins said.
More than 50 news cameras were set up on hotel balconies when the tank fired, according to Associated Press photographer Jerome Delay. "How can they spot someone with binoculars and not (see) cameras?" he asked.
Journalists said they heard no gunfire coming from the hotel or its immediate environs. They had been watching two U.S. tanks shooting across the al-Jumhuriya bridge, more than a half-mile away, when one of the tanks rotated its turret toward the hotel and fired. [...]