U.S. guards shoot dead 4 inmates in Iraq prison riot
U.S. troops in Iraq shot dead four inmates during a prison riot on Monday, the military said.
Six prisoners were wounded in the violence, which affected hundreds of detainees at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq on the day after Iraqis voted in their first free election in decades.
There were no serious injuries among the Americans during 45 minutes of rioting, Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson told Reuters. Troops shot the four dead with rifles after failing to quell the riot with plastic pellets fired from shotguns.
Prisoners began throwing rocks and fashioning weapons after a routine search of one of 10 compounds at the camp near the port of Umm Qasr, the military said in a written statement.
Violence spread to three other compounds, which together house more than 2,900 of Camp Bucca's 5,300 inmates.
Some detainees have been held for more than a year, Johnson said, noting that the camp was now the main internment facility for suspected guerrillas in Iraq. Baghdad's Abu Ghraib jail, scene of abuses by American guards, now holds fewer prisoners.
Those injured were hurt variously by U.S. troops or other detainees, the military statement said. Three of the six wounded were taken to a military hospital for further treatment.
ALL GUARDS DEPLOYED
"The violence erupted after a routine search for contraband in one of the camp's 10 compounds," the statement said.
"The facility's commander immediately deployed all available guards to the camp in an attempt to control the situation.
"The riot quickly spread to three additional compounds, with detainees throwing rocks and fashioning weapons from materials inside their living areas.
"Guards attempted to calm the increasingly volatile situation using verbal warnings and, when that failed, by use of non-lethal force. After about 45 minutes of escalating danger, lethal force was used to quell the violence.
"The situation quickly began to subside after the use of lethal force. Medical personnel on site provided immediate aid to the injured."
Johnson, a spokesmen on detainee affairs, said the prisoners were all men but declined to identify the casualties. The Iraqi government and Red Cross would be notified, the military said.
It is not the first time American forces have fired on Iraqi prisoners in such circumstances.
Johnson said the troops on guard were from a recently arrived reserve unit, the 105th Military Police Battalion. U.S. military records show that to be based at Buffalo, New York.
"The cause of the riot and use of lethal force is currently under investigation by the chain of command and the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigations Division, which is standard procedure whenever a detainee death occurs," the military statement said.