By: Christopher Torchia, Associated Press Writer
(AP) The U.S. military on Monday released three Iraqi employees of the Reuters news agency and an Iraqi cameraman working for NBC who were detained last week, a military official said.
The Reuters and NBC employees were detained Friday near Fallujah, west of Baghdad, after insurgents shot down an OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding another.
“All are released,” said a senior official of the U.S.-led coalition governing Iraq. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
Shortly after the helicopter was shot down, the U.S. military said assailants posing as journalists fired upon U.S. soldiers who were guarding the burning aircraft, and that it had detained four suspects.
The U.S. military has said it was investigating, and has not commented on the possibility that soldiers mistook the journalists for guerrillas.
The Reuters employees are Salem Uraiby, a Reuters TV cameraman based in Baghdad; Ahmad Mohammad Hussein Badrani, a Reuters TV employee based in Fallujah; and Sattar Jabar Badrani, a driver based in Fallujah.
The NBC cameraman is Ali Mohammed Hussein Badrani. All the Badranis are related.
Alaa Noury, another Reuters driver who was working with the news crew that was later detained, said they had been fired on by U.S. troops as they filmed in the area. They drove away at high speed and were unhurt, according to Reuters. Noury returned to Baghdad, while his colleagues stayed in the area and were detained.