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(AFX-Focus) 2003-04-07 13:38 GMT: IRAQ WAR US forces deliberately attacked Russian convoy - Russian ambassador

MOSCOW (AFX) - The Russian ambassador to Iraq has accused US forces of deliberately shooting at his convoy as it was fleeing Iraq for Syria, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The report, filed from the Iraqi-Syrian border, said ambassador Vladimir Titorenko was lightly injured, with his arm hurt in the attack.

"The Russian ambassador to Iraq Vladimir Titorenko thinks that the column of Russian cars, filled with diplomats and journalists, was deliberately attacked by the Americans," RIA Novosti wrote.

Russian news reports had earlier said that the convoy was carrying Russian flags as it was leaving Baghdad.

The state-run news agency said that four cars in the convoy had been hit in the attack and that US M-16 bullet casings were found in the vehicles.

The report further accused US forces of trying to stop the Russian convoy for inspections several times, "but these attempts were thwarted by the Russian diplomats."

US officials have so far refused to confirm that they were responsible for the attack, arguing that the region where the Russian convoy was hit was not yet controlled by US troops.

In Moscow, US national security adviser Condoleezza Rice held hastily-arranged talks Monday with Russian foreign and defense officials after the five Russian diplomats were hit.

A US official told Agence France-Presse that Rice had "good discussions" with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and the head of Russia's security council Sergei Rushailo.


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