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[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] Mysteries Shroud Fate Of Samarra¹s Causalities A child walks out through a bullet-riddled entrance hit by U.S. soldiers in Samarra (AFP) Additional Reporting By Numir El-Higazi, IOL Correspondent SAMARRA, Iraq, December 2 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) - Mysteries are still shrouding the whereabouts of the bodies of Iraqi resistance fighters said to be killed by U.S. troops on Sunday, November 30, with a myriad of residents contesting the American version as greatly exaggerated. U.S. commanders claimed Monday, December 1, that they killed 54 fighters and wounded 18 in intense exchanges of fire with the Iraqi resistance in the northern town of Samarra after they mounted coordinated ambushes of three separate convoys. Agence France-Presse (AFP) also cast doubts on the U.S. death count, describing the whole matter as a mystery that could border on solving a mathematics equation, which is further deepened by a report of U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Ryan Gonsalves. According to Gonsalves, a total of 60 fighters, divided into two groups, attacked two military convoys in the town. Another four fighters in a BMW attacked a separate engineering convoy. If the U.S. troops killed 46, as it was announced in earlier reports, and captured 11 of them, only three of the survivors would have been left to pick up the corpses, which is impossible, pure and simple. On the figures given by U.S. Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, the calculus becomes even hazier -- with 54 killed, 22 wounded and one captured, 13 fighters remain unaccounted for. Challenged about what had happened to the bodies, Kimmitt said: "I would suspect that the enemy would have carried them away and brought them back to where their initial base was." Asked about reports from senior police and hospital officials in the town of only eight civilians killed and dozens more wounded, the U.S. general insisted: "We have no such reports whether from medical authorities or police." Witnesses told Al-Jazeera correspondent on Monday that the number of the dead has been "greatly exaggerated" by U.S. commanders, asserting that it did not go beyond "eight killed and 55 injured". 'Evaporated' A Shiite Imam sits by the damaged entrance of the sanctuary of Imam Ali Al-Ahadi (AFP) Residents in Samarra said they had not seen any of the fighters' bodies, 46 or 54. Abdelrizek Jadwa, who owns a grocery 50 meters (yards) from the scene of one of the attacks, wondered where did the bodies disappear. "After the firing, I went out of my shop. There were no wounded, no killed on the streets. Have they evaporated?" The head of the local hospital, Abed Tawfiq, reported eight dead civilians but no fighters. And Dr. Falah Hassan told IslamOnline.net that only seven people, including an 11-year-old boy, old man and an Iranian woman, were killed and 54 others injured. Ambulance driver Abdelmoneim Mohammed said he had not ferried any combatants wounded or killed and wearing the black Fedayeen outfit. "If I had seen bodies, I would have picked them up. It's not like the Americans would have done it. "If the death toll had reached that announced by the Americans, the atmosphere in Samarra would be quite different," he said. Salaheddin Mawlud, a colonel in the former Iraqi army, who now heads Samarra city council's complaints office, said the American toll does not work. "If there had been so many dead, we would have seen people rushing to the hospital, the police station or here, and it just didn't happen." Another local described as "holy" the Samarra battle, claiming that Iraqi fighters had killed up to 40 U.S. soldiers and destroyed 14 tanks. Other witnesses told IOL that the town's locals knew about U.S. plans to transfer newly issued Iraqi dinars to Al-Rashid Bank in Samarra and attacked the escorting convoys, killing all onboard. Mohammad Salih, 21, told IOL that only four fighters were killed in the battle. Women stand at their bullet-riddled balcony after it was hit by U.S. troops in Samarra (AFP) "I was hiding inside my father's shop at the time and I saw four fighters riding a black BMW and firing rocket propelled-grenades (RPGs) at the U.S. convoys, but a U.S. tank hit back at their car and killed them," he said. Holy Places Attacked Witnesses further said that U.S. troops opened fire at the gates of the mausoleum of Ali Al-Hadi, a Shiite authority, and Al-Risala Al-Muhammadia mosque. The occupation troops further fired shells at the town on Sunday night, wounding 15 worshippers who were about to perform Al-Maghrib prayers. "As I was about to say my prayers with other worshippers I heard a powerful explosion and I fell into a comma to find myself later in the hospital," Gamal Muntasir, 19, told IOL. He said the attack on innocent worshippers came in retaliation for the grinding battle of Samarra, which inflicted heavy losses on the U.S. troops. Confused Answers Furthermore, U.S. commanders tried to dodge questions of reporters, who tried to figure out mind-boggling mystery of the absence of any fighters' bodies at Samarra's single hospital or on the city's streets. "Are you asking me to produce (them)?" Retorted Colonel Fredrick Rudesheim, who heads the 3rd Combat Brigades that was involved in Sunday's clashes. "This is a good question and I think perhaps if you can interview the Fedayeen (a disbanded militia of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime) or whoever attacked us, you might get a better answer." Gonsalves, who commands the 166th Armored Battalion in Samarra, also said his troops were not in possession of the bodies. The death toll, he said, "is based on the reports we got from the ground." Lieutenant Joseph Marcee, who took part in Sunday's combat, alleged he saw several of the fighters lying dead on the ground. "There was no time to pick up the bodies. We were receiving fire from other locations," he said. Sergeant Nicholas Mullen, who fired rounds from an Abrams tank Sunday, offered yet another explanation for the army's inability to locate the corpses. "We don't stick around," he said. The events capped the worst weekend in seven months of occupation which saw the deaths of seven Spaniards, two Koreans, two Japanese, two U.S. soldiers and a Colombian. Ninety-nine occupation troops were said to have died in Iraq during November, according to a BBC count. They included 82 U.S. troops, and 17 Italian soldiers. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk