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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Soldier tells inquest of US fire
ITN journalist Terry Lloyd
Veteran war reporter Terry Lloyd died in Iraq in March 2003
A US forces tank fired on vehicles carrying an ITN news team near Basra, a soldier has told the inquest into the death of journalist Terry Lloyd.

The British man, known only as Soldier B, gave evidence to the Oxford inquest from behind a screen.

It is the first public acknowledgement that UK forces saw the events of 22 March 2003, when Mr Lloyd, originally from Derby, died.

Hussein Osman, the interpreter for Mr Lloyd, 50, also died on that day.

The team's French cameraman Fred Nerac went missing.

Soldier B told Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker that he saw three vehicles - one thought to be carrying Mr Lloyd and cameraman Daniel Demoustier, the second an Iraqi pick-up truck with a machine gun on the back, and a third with Mr Nerac and Mr Osman inside.

Once there was no further movement in the area and the threat had been taken out, the firing stopped
Soldier B

He witnessed an exchange of fire between the US tank and the Iraqi vehicle for about 30 seconds before the truck burst into flames.

He told the coroner: "I can't say for sure who engaged first.

"My recollection is that the tank engaged the vehicles."

Mr Lloyd's vehicle "also ignited and went off to the side of the road to its right and came to rest on the side of a field, burning".

Firing

Soldier B did not see anyone leave Mr Lloyd's vehicle, but saw the driver and passenger in the third vehicle run for cover.

"The tank continued to fire at the position where the people had taken cover.

"I couldn't see them but I could see it firing in that direction for a maximum of a minute.

"Once there was no further movement in the area and the threat had been taken out, the firing stopped."

When the firing stopped, Soldier B said he saw a green minibus stop, and although it was difficult to see with black smoke all around, it looked as if people were helped into the minibus.

He said there were no helicopters circling.

Reports following the incident suggested Mr Lloyd had been shot by a helicopter gunship as he was taken for medical help.

When Soldier B returned to the scene about eight hours later, he said there were no bodies or evidence of anyone injured in Mr Nerac's and Mr Hussein's vehicle. In the Iraqi pick-up truck he found three charred bodies and one body outside.

During Friday's hearing, ITN journalist Nicholas Walshe gave evidence about his investigation, on behalf of the news channel, into the death of his colleague.

Minibus

Mr Walshe said he spoke to Iraqis, of varying credibility, who said they were present in the minibus when Mr Lloyd was shot for the second time.

One Iraqi had told Mr Walshe that he saw Mr Lloyd injured on the ground and put him into the minibus. He heard him say "Sahafi", meaning "journalist" in Arabic, before he died.

Another "very credible" Iraqi said he had driven the minibus which took Mr Lloyd to hospital, according to Mr Walshe.

This driver said Mr Lloyd "appeared shot in the shoulder and his arm was broken", Mr Walshe told the coroner.

"He had been lying in the sand between two lanes of the road and walked to the car but was too weak to get in it without help."

Mr Walshe said the Iraqi then told him: "Terry was then shot in the head by US troops while the vehicle was leaving the scene.

"He showed the hole in the vehicle where he said the bullet passed through."

Another Iraqi told Mr Walshe he had seen Mr Lloyd crouching by the side of the road and then crawling towards the minibus before he was hit by American fire. He said he still managed to get into the minibus.

That Iraqi said he remembered seeing up to three helicopters above, but he was unclear about where the shot came from.

Mr Lloyd joined ITN in 1983, having begun his journalistic career in his native Derby.




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