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US rejects charge from wounded Italian journalist
Updated: 2005-03-08 00:05

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday rejected an Italian journalist's suggestion that she was targeted by U.S. troops in Iraq in a shooting in which she was wounded and an Italian secret service agent was killed.

"I think it's absurd to make any such suggestion that our men and women in uniform deliberately targeted innocent civilians. That's just absurd," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

The journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, who writes for the daily Il Manifesto, had suggested she and the Italian secret service agent, Nicola Calipari, were targeted because the United States opposes Italy's practice of negotiating with hostage takers.

McClellan said the road to the Baghdad airport where the incident took place "is one of the most dangerous roads in Iraq," a place where suicide bombings and various other attacks have taken place.

"It is a dangerous road and it is a combat zone that our coalition forces are in, and oftentimes they have to make split-second decisions to protect their own security and we regret this incident, and we are going to fully investigate what exactly occurred," McClellan said.

He said President Bush considered Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a good friend and has assured him there will be a full investigation into the incident.

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