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U.S. Forces Blamed For Journalists' Deaths In Iraq

Prague, 15 January 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders today said top U.S. military commanders should be held accountable for the deaths of two journalists in Baghdad in April.

The group said the shelling of the Palestine Hotel was not a deliberate attack on the media. But it said that U.S. military commanders had committed "criminal negligence" by failing to inform troops that many journalists were based at the hotel and that it should not be targeted.

Yesterday, U.S. President George W. Bush's policy in Iraq came under attack by a leading member of the opposition Democratic Party, Senator Edward Kennedy, who called the war "one of the worst blunders of American foreign policy." Kennedy said the president had exploited fears of terrorism to justify an unnecessary war.

And in Iraq today, tens of thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in Al-Basrah to show support for Shi'a leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who has rejected U.S. plans for the transfer of power to Iraqis. Al-Sistani opposes plans for an appointed interim government to take power, and is demanding direct elections in the coming months.