A US soldier opened fire at Camp Liberty, one of the main American bases in Baghdad, killing at least five soldiers. The shooter is being held in custody, according to a military spokesperson in Iraq.
AFP - A US soldier is suspected of opening fire on his comrades at the largest American base in Iraq on Monday, killing five soldiers in what was the single deadliest toll on US forces in a month.
A US defence official in Washington said that at least three others were wounded in the deadly attack at a Camp Liberty clinic in Baghdad for soldiers suffering from war-related stress.
Details of the incident remained sketchy, but the US military in Iraq said an American soldier suspected in the shooting had been detained. Initial US TV reports said a soldier had turned the gun on himself.
"Five coalition forces members were killed in a shooting at Camp Liberty in Baghdad today at approximately 2 pm (1100 GMT)," the US statement said, adding that the incident was under investigation.
"A US soldier suspected of being involved with the shootings is currently in custody."
US President Barack Obama was "saddened" by the killings, his spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "He was shocked by the news of this incident and will press to ensure that we fully understand what happened."
The shooting was the single bloodiest toll of US forces in Iraq since April 10 when five American soldiers were killed by a suicide truck bomb that ploughed into a local police compound in the northern city of Mosul.
Attacks by stressed US soldiers on their colleagues are not uncommon in Iraq, and the last such report was on September 14 when US sergeant Joseph Bozicevich shot dead two of his superiors at a base south of Baghdad.
Bozicevich, 39, killed staff sergeant Darris Dawson, 24, and sergeant Wesley Durbin, 26, because he could not bear being berated by them, according to reports.
Nearly a fifth of American soldiers deployed in Iraq suffer Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to the US military's battlemind.army.mil website.
Monday's attack in Baghdad comes at a sensitive time in the US military's six-year occupation of the country it invaded in 2003 to topple Saddam Hussein.
A spree of recent violence in the capital has raised concerns about whether Iraqi security forces are battle ready as American forces prepare to withdraw from the nation's cities.
Baghdad has been hard hit by a series of deadly bombings targeting crowded civilian areas in recent weeks, and April was the bloodiest month in Iraq since September, with 355 people killed, according to official figures.
Despite the recent attacks, Iraq has insisted it will stick to the deadline for American troops to withdraw from cities by June 30, while Washington's top commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, has insisted the pullout is on track.
The drawdown is part of a military accord signed between Washington and Baghdad that will see US forces leave Iraq completely by the end of 2011. The United States currently has about 139,000 troops in Iraq.
The US military also announced on Monday that an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the southern oil hub of Basra on May 10.
Monday's shooting brought to 4,293 the number of American losses since the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, according to an AFP count based on the independent website icasualties.org.
Also on Monday, one of Baghdad's most senior police chiefs was assassinated in a drive-by shooting, a police official told AFP. Gunmen shot dead Abdul Hussein Mohsen al-Kadhemi, as he was driving in central Baghdad.
And in Mosul, considered to be the last urban stronghold of Islamist militants in Iraq, one policeman was killed and another was wounded when their patrol was attacked by gunmen.
Rakan Aziz, a former senior military officer turned politician, was also shot dead in the city's central Muthana district, police said.
And in oil-rich Kirkuk, where rivalries between Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Turkmen are running high, a car bomb killed two, including a nine-year-old boy, and wounded eight others including three policeman, the authorities said.
Date created : 2009-05-11