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U.S. troops kill three journalists in one day

Iraq, 9 April 2003 —

Three journalists died yesterday when American air-raid and artillery ordnance hit two separate buildings in Baghdad.

Two cameramen, Taras Protsyuk, 35, and Jose Couso, 37, died when a single shell from an American tank hit the 15th floor of the Palestine Hotel. At least three other employees of the news agency Reuters were injured.

About a kilometer way, an Al-Jazeera reporter, Tariq Ayoub, was on the roof of that station's office doing a live broadcast when two air-to-surface missiles hit the building. He died soon after.

Joel Simon, acting director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York non-profit group, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, calling for full investigation — suggesting that the attacks may violate the laws of the Geneva Conventions.

"This coalition does not target journalists," said Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks.

Colonel David Perkins, a U.S. Army commander in Baghdad, said that Iraqis had fired rocket-propelled grenades at his tanks from in front of the Palestine Hotel. Some U.S. troops said that snipers had fired from the rooftop. Other soldiers said that mortar and grenade fire had come from in front of the hotel, and that they had seen binoculars trained on them from an upper floor.

None of the occupants of the building, which for the duration of the seige has housed most of the foreign journalists in Baghdad, have reported witnessing any fire directed from the hotel or from its vicinity toward American forces.

The command of the coalition military forces knew the locations and the journalistic purposes of both the Palestine Hotel and the Al-Jazeera headquarters. The latter was based in a residential neighborhood.