Killings will fuel revenge attacks, say Iraqis

 

Twenty bullet holes in the windscreen, another eight in the roof and at least four more in the blood-soaked driver's seat of the rusty taxi fuel the hatred in 14-year-old Ahmed Muthana's dark brown eyes.

The Iraqi schoolboy with short-cropped hair and an unblinking stare stands erect by the car and clutches a tunic red all over from the dried blood of his uncle, shot dead by US troops at an anti-American demonstration in Falluja.

"I hate Americans," he said. "I want revenge. I will wait, I will join a group, and, one day, I will kill Americans," Muthana said yesterday.

On Monday, his father was wounded in the leg as he shepherded his seven children inside their home in front of the demonstration.

Muthana's uncle was trying to reach the house to drive the boy's father to hospital when the bullets raked his orange and white cab.

Muthana said he now wanted to join al-Qaeda because he admired Osama bin Laden.

Many residents of Falluja, a conservative Sunni Muslim city of about 270,000 people, said they would turn their anger into revenge attacks against the US soldiers who have killed at least 15 people at demonstrations this week.

Late on Wednesday, seven US soldiers were wounded in a grenade attack at their base in the city which had seen little violence in the three-week war.

Like most residents, Hend Majid, a 29-year-old housewife, said she was glad Saddam was gone after decades of brutal repression.

But with the US "occupation," she said she felt like a Palestinian under Israeli rule.

Sitting in her living room where two bullets had pierced the window and flown above the cot of her seven-day-old niece, she vowed to become a suicide bomber.

"I will strap explosives to my chest to get rid of them," she said.

Thirteen Iraqis were killed on Monday. Two days later, two Iraqis were killed when US soldiers opened fire in a similar incident in Falluja, 50km west of Baghdad.

The US military said its troops were shot at first in both incidents but Iraqi witnesses said the shootings were unprovoked.

"Everyone here was happy at first that the Americans threw out Saddam," Ibrahim Hamad, a retired soldier, said. "But these killings will make all our children go off with bin Laden." - (Reuters)