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Iraq: Muslim Leaders Ask U.S. Troops To Move Out Of Fallujah After More Demonstrators Shot

Fallujah, Iraq; 30 April 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Muslim leaders in the Iraqi town of Fallujah have met and asked U.S. forces to pull back from the center of the town to pacify people protesting the military presence. Shaykh Waga Ali al-Muhammadi, the town's top religious leader, said Fallujah is known as "a center of Islam" and protests could intensify.

Imam Abd al-Hamid Jadu, who also attended a meeting with U.S. officers, said that the talks represented "diplomatic means" to neutralize tension in the town.

Earlier today, U.S. troops opened fire in Fallujah on Iraqi demonstrators, killing at least two and wounding several more.

U.S. Major Michael Marti said that soldiers traveling in a vehicle convoy had opened fire after shots were fired at them from a crowd of people. He said the crowd was apparently protesting about the shooting by U.S. troops of Iraqi demonstrators in the same town yesterday.

In yesterday's incident, U.S. military said seven Iraqis were killed, but other reports said at least 13 Iraqis died. U.S. Central Command says it is looking into reports about the shooting.