Winning hearts and minds:
Traffic officer Ali Khalaf, who was on duty on Sunday last week in Al-Yarmukh, in the mainly Sunni Mansour area of west Baghdad, told AFP he had witnessed the entire incident.
“The American convoy arrived… and as usual I stopped the traffic to allow them to pass,” Khalaf said.
As they often do, guards from the US firm — the largest private security operators in Iraq — hurled water bottles at cars to stop traffic as they drove through.
“Then without reason, they opened fire. Four shots, in the air, aiming just above the cars,” Khalaf said.
“But one of the bullets struck a man in his car. I went to his aid but he was already dead, his body was slumped on the dashboard.
“His wife was then killed before my eyes by a bullet that hit her in the head.”
Khalaf said he ran to take shelter inside his little hut as the gunfire continued.
The car with the dead couple “continued to move, with its doors open and the bodies inside — like a phantom vehicle.”
“The Americans fired at everything that moved, with a machine gun and even with a grenade launcher. There was panic. Everyone tried to flee. Vehicles tried to make U-turns to escape.”