BAGHDAD — An Iraqi soldier Wednesday sprayed automatic weapons fire at U.S. soldiers at an Iraqi military base in Mosul, killing two and wounding six before he died in a hail of bullets, an American general said.
In Baghdad, bombers struck the capital for a third straight day, killing 23 people and wounding scores in a string of attacks in mostly Shiite areas.
Maj.-Gen. Mark Hertling, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, told The Associated Press the "premeditated" attack occurred in a courtyard as the soldiers waited for their two lieutenants to finish a meeting with an Iraqi army company commander.
Hertling, who said he had spoken with some of the wounded troops, disputed Iraqi accounts that the shooting followed a heated argument between the Iraqi soldier and the Americans.
Hertling said the attacker strolled into the courtyard carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a drum of ammunition, walked to a corner, turned and opened fire.
"One shot was aimed and the rest was literally a spray," he said. "There was no argument, no spitting, no slapping, none of that occurred."
The six wounded American soldiers were expected to recover, Hertling said.
He said senior Iraqi army and police commanders in Mosul, 360 kilometres northwest of Baghdad, had expressed regret over the shooting and promised a joint investigation.
In Baghdad, Defence Ministry spokesman Maj.-Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said the shooting followed a quarrel at an Iraqi base in a volatile Sunni Arab neighbourhood in central Mosul. The Iraqi soldier was identified as Barzan al-Hadidi.
It was the second such shooting in Mosul in a year, raising questions about the professionalism and preparedness of Iraqi security forces and their relations with their American partners.