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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 January, 2004, 15:47 GMT
US attack helicopter down in Iraq
The Apache is the main US attack helicopter
A US Apache helicopter has crashed in Iraq after apparently coming under ground fire.

The two crew members were unhurt after their aircraft came down near the town of Habbaniya, 80 kilometres (48 miles) west of the capital Baghdad.

Meanwhile, at least two Iraqi civilians are reported killed by US troops who opened fire in the town of Falluja.

Both Habbaniya and Falluja lie within the "Sunni triangle", a centre of resistance to the US-led occupation.

RECENT HELICOPTER LOSSES
8 Jan - Black Hawk crashed, believed shot down, near Falluja - nine killed
2 Jan - OH-58 Delta Kiowa Warrior shot down near Falluja - one soldier killed
15 Nov - Two Black Hawks crash in Mosul, at least 17 killed
7 Nov - Black Hawk shot down near Tikrit, six killed
2 Nov - Chinook shot down near Falluja, killing 16 US soldiers
25 Oct - Black Hawk crashes near Tikrit, reportedly hit by ground fire - soldier injured

The heavily armoured Apache was the third US helicopter to come down in the region in two weeks.

It was part of the US Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which operates the air base north of Habbaniya.

A US military spokesman, Colonel William Darley, said: "It was apparently downed by enemy fire."

A military quick-response force rescued the crew members.

Falluja clash

In Falluja, 50 kilometres (30 miles) west of Baghdad, police commissioner Adel Khalaf said two civilians had died after US troops opened fire after reportedly coming under rocket attack while patrolling the town centre.

Eyewitnesses said the civilian death toll was four.

The incident occurred after a noisy anti-American protest in the flashpoint town, which has seen numerous attacks on US forces.

Hundreds of people demonstrated about the arrest of a young woman by US troops in the town on Monday.

The woman was released after questioning.

In a separate incident, the US military says an imam in Falluja has been arrested after a speaker at his mosque used evening prayers to incite attacks on US troops and Iraqi police.

"The individual from Falluja was inciting violence, telling the people... it was their duty to attack coalition forces, the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps and Iraqi police," Major Josslyn Aberle told reporters.

Baghdad deaths

The US military has yet to comment on reports that two Iraqi civilians were killed by US forces in an incident at a Baghdad checkpoint on Monday.

US forces in Baghdad
US forces have been criticised over civilian deaths
A bomb reportedly went off near the checkpoint, killing one US soldier. Other soldiers are said to have opened fire, hitting a car and killing its driver and a 10-year-old boy.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a US commander has acknowledged that American forces were likely to have been behind the killing 10 days ago of four Iraqis.

The four civilians, including one child, were shot dead while travelling in a car near the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit.

In the south-eastern city of Kut, seven people were injured on Tuesday in clashes during protests by unemployed Iraqis.

Ukrainian soldiers are reported to have fired on Iraqis protesting about the lack of jobs in the town, after themselves coming under fire.

On Sunday, Iraqi police and British forces killed six protesters in a similar demonstration in the southern city of Amara.




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