07 August 2006

German soldier in Iraq

The Iraqi rebels show me their latest victim: a German in a pool of blood
By Lee Gordon

(Filed: 11/04/2004)
A young Iraqi mujahideen fighter poses in triumph by the smouldering wreck, his face obscured by a red and white kaffiyeh scarf, his high-powered sniper's rifle ready for action.
It is only minutes since a white Japanese 4x4 vehicle was forced off the road and its two occupants, both German, killed in a firefight and their bodies dragged from the vehicle when it burst into flames.
Now, a mile away, I have been brought to the scene of their deaths by the heavily-armed mujahideen rebels who oppose the presence of coalition forces in Iraq but have allowed me to live alongside them for two days.
Yards away, the Tigris coils gently through the green countryside; on another day it might be an idyllic spot for a picnic. Under the blazing sun, however, the victims lie stretched out in a lay-by off the highway. Nearby, six Iraqis are digging their graves.
The identification badge in one victim's wallet shows that he was a 25-year-old German. One side of his face is caked in blood. His body is punctured by bullet holes.
An argument is raging between several young Iraqis and the mujahideen commander, a man in his forties with clear blue eyes who tells me he is a former Iraqi special forces officer.
When one teenager tries to strike a pose with his foot planted on the body, the commander issues a sharp rebuke. He tells them to pull a sheet over the corpse to conceal the fact that it is naked below the waist. He barks more orders before climbing back into his car, cursing the young hotheads.
I hear how the Germans came to die. They had been travelling last Wednesday in a six-vehicle convoy of white 4x4s which had crashed through a mujahideen checkpoint on a highway running between Baghdad and Jordan.
During the ensuing high-speed chase, gunfire erupted between the Iraqis and the convoy. When the Iraqis, using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire, hit the tyres of the last vehicle it swerved off the road and pulled up by a small building that was once a school. There would be no escape.
Only yesterday did I learn that German officials were still looking for two of their staff who had gone missing on the way from Amman, the Jordanian capital, to the German embassy in Baghdad. According to some German media reports, the men were anti-terrorist commandos, trained in hostage release

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