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U.S. Soldiers Kill Three Shopping Iraqis

U.S. Soldiers Kill Three Shopping Iraqis

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BAGHDAD (AP) -- A U.S. patrol opened fire Monday on a group of people in Baghdad's gun market, killing three, after the soldiers apparently mistook the gunfire of customers testing weapons for an attack, a witness and an Iraqi police officer said.

Four people also were wounded, hospital and police officials said. The dead included an 11-year-old boy.

In Iraq, it is legal for a family to own one gun for self-defense. That weapon is usually an AK-47 assault rifle. The gun market, however, is illegal and has been raided repeatedly by U.S. soldiers, who have tried to close it down.

The incident began when a group of Iraqis were testing a gun in the market by firing it in the air, said Maj. Ali Rykan of the Iraqi police.

As they fired, four armored cars passed by, Rykan said.

At least two U.S. soldiers then opened fire on the market, killing three Iraqis, said Rykan and a witness, Hashem Naim Mohammed. Mohammed's 11-year-old nephew, Akil Hussein Naim, was among the dead.

The shooting took place at the Mreydi market, a 2-mile-long market known as a place where one can buy guns and thieves hawk stolen goods.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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