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US forces shoot, wound Iraqi female TV journalist

world Updated: Jan 03, 2009 22:29 IST

US forces shot and severely wounded a female Iraqi television producer in southern Baghdad this week, US officials and Iraqi colleagues said on Saturday.

The US military said that US soldiers, operating in an area of central Baghdad seen as a high risk for suicide attacks, shot a woman they described as acting suspiciously on Jan. 1.

"Concerned by the danger she might present to the security forces and civilians, given her repeated failure to respond to warnings ... soldiers fired two rounds," it said in a statement.

Hadil Imad, who works as a producer for Biladi television station, was shot on the Jadriya bridge in the Karrada area of Baghdad, said Muhanad Najim, an editor at Biladi.

Imad, who received a wound in her abdomen, remains in critical condition at Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad, he said.

Biladi, which is owned by former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, broadcast images of Imad lying in a hospital bed, asleep or unconscious, with a tube taped to her nose.

A Biladi anchor said she had been married a week before the shooting and had come to the station to see colleagues just before she was shot in the back.

Another colleague, who asked to go unnamed, said the bullet passed through her abdomen entirely and hit her kidney. He said Imad had hearing problems, raising the possibility she may not have heard warnings from US soldiers.

The shooting took place on the day that US forces came under Iraqi authority for the first time.

Under a new bilateral pact that took effect on Jan. 1, US military operations must have Iraqi authorisation and US forces will gradually curtail their activities ahead of a withdrawal deadline at the end of 2011.

The pact also allows Iraqi courts to try foreign contractors. For serious, premeditated crimes committed off-base and off-duty, local courts can also try US soldiers.

US and Iraqi military officials are conducting an investigation into the attack.

While violence has dropped sharply in Iraq, it remains a dangerous place, especially for journalists. At least 135 media workers have been killed in the line of duty in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says.

There has been a jump in suicide bombings staged by women over the past year, especially in volatile areas northeast of Baghdad.