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With tension running high in al-Falluja, another demonstration took place on April 30 to protest the U.S. presence and the violence of April 28. Again, all of the participants stressed that they had no weapons as they protested in front of the U.S. Army's main al-Falluja base, although some people admitted to throwing stones. While they were on the street, a U.S. Army convoy rolled by, heading from al-Ramadi to Baghdad. The U.S. military claimed the convoy came under fire, and that U.S. troops returned fire. The result was three more protesters dead and at least sixteen wounded.

The city manager, Mahdi al-Qubaisi, was in his municipal offices when a crowd of 100 people arrived around ten in the morning. He told Human Rights Watch:

    The next day, some peaceful civilian groups came to the street, holding signs that they rejected what happened [the previous day]. They reached the Ba`th headquarters, across the street. They did not use any weapons-I am a witness. There was a kind of chaos or disturbance inside the crowd. One man came into the group from Saddam's regime. The demonstrators pulled him out and beat him, and the Americans were watching. An American tank or Humvee saw this disturbance and it immediately attacked them with guns. It was not from the base but a patrol from another street."62

`Abd al-Aziz Hamid Dawud al-Nu`aimi, one of the protesters who was shot in the hip, breaking his pelvis. He said the peaceful and unarmed crowd was chanting "Allah is great!" and other Islamic slogans when a U.S. military convoy came from the direction of al-Ramadi on the main street-many Humvees with machine guns mounted on top. One of the vehicles fired a warning shot in the air. "The convoy was big when I heard the shot," al-Nu`aimi said. "I left the demonstration and the fourth or fifth vehicle struck me [with a bullet] from behind."63

Another witness was an imam, Ahmad `Abdallah al-Jumaili, whose son Ghanim was shot and killed. According to the imam, the demonstration was led by local intellectuals and Islamic scholars who wanted the U.S. forces to leave. He told Human Rights Watch:

    They stood in front of the place demanding the Americans leave al-Falluja because it is a land of mosques. Suddenly they opened fire from the armored personnel carrier, from the convoy and the base... I was on the side of my car. When the shooting started, I left. My son was shot in the head and he died immediately. He was one of the leaders holding a sign. He was just chanting.64

Human Rights Watch did not speak in detail with Lt. Col. Nantz or the other soldiers about the April 30 incident because they were not present, but they asserted that the convoy driving through town had come under attack. A statement by U.S. Central command said that coalition forces had "exercised their inherent right to self-protection in accordance with the rules of engagement."65

Lt. Col. Tobin Green, commander of the Second Squadron of the Third Armored Calvary Regiment, which was taking over al-Falluja from the 82nd Airborne, told the press that a six-vehicle convoy had opened fire after coming under attack.66 An intelligence officer from the Second Brigade, Maj. Michael Marti, said the convoy opened fired after a vehicle window was broken.67 "Then fire came from the crowd, directed at the convoy," he told the BBC. "It was at that point that they returned fire... It was well aimed fire."68

Col. Bray, commander of the 82nd Airborne's 2nd Brigade, said he was in a meeting at the former headquarters of the Ba`th party with Mayor al-`Alawani and four imams to discuss reducing tension in town when the protesters arrived. He told Human Rights Watch that the lead vehicle in the convoy was struck with a rock, hitting a soldier in the head. Another soldier lost a tooth. The lead vehicle fired a warning shot into the air, he said, which is consistent with witness reports. The trail vehicle then fired with its M249 machinegun.69

According to al-Falluja Hospital director Dr. Ahmad Ghanim al-`Ali, two people were killed right away and a third died during transfer to the hospital in al-Ramadi. Sixteen people were wounded.70 The persons killed were:

Ghanim Ahmad `Abdullah al-Jumaili, twenty-two-year-old college student71
Muhammad `Imad `Abbud, twenty-two-year-old metalworker72
`Umar Hathari al-`Uqaili.73

62 Human Rights Watch interview with Mahdi al-Qubaisi, al-Falluja city manager , May 3, 2003.

63 Human Rights Watch interview with `Abd al-Aziz Hamid Dawud al-Nu`aimi, al-Falluja, May 3, 2003.

64 Human Rights Watch interview with Ahmad `Abdallah al-Jumaili, al-Falluja, May 3, 2003.

65 Headquarters United States Central Command, News Release, May 1, 2003.

66 Ian Fisher and Michael Gordon, "U.S. Troops Fire on Iraqi Protesters Again; Two Reported Dead," New York Times, May 1, 2003.

67 Ibid.

68 "Protesters Shoot in al-Falluja," BBC News, April 30, 2003,

69 Human Rights Watch interview with Col. Arnold Bray, May 13, Baghdad, 2003.

70 Human Rights Watch interviews with Dr. Ahmad Ghanim al-`Ali, director of al-Falluja hospital, , May 3 and May 6, 2003.

71 Human Rights Watch interview with victim's father, Ahmad `Abdullah al-Jumaili, al-Falluja, May 3, 2003.

72 Human Rights Watch interview with witness Hakim Khalil, al-Falluja, May 5, 2003.

73 The victim's name was taken from a death announcement hanging in al-Falluja's market on May 4, 2003.

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