US soldiers kill 54 in attempted robbery

01 December 2003
At least 54 Iraqis were killed by US soldiers on 30 November in a gun battle in the city of Samarra as US forces fought off an attempted banknote robbery. US officials said that the deaths occurred after two American convoys carrying new Iraqi Dinar banknotes were ambushed as they approached the city. 'It was a co-ordinated attack... on a convoy... delivering a significant amount of Iraqi currency,' said a US military spokesman. The subsequent gunfights were the largest clashes since the end of major combat operations on 1 May. A military spokesman said that one of the convoys was attacked from both sides as it approached Samarra. Another convoy was forced to stop on a barricaded road after which gunmen fired down at the vehicles from nearby rooftops. Five US soldiers and a civilian were injured in the attack. Shortly after the two ambushes, four men in a car attacked a third US convoy in the city. The men were captured and guns and rocket-propelled grenades were found in the vehicle.

The attacks came hours after three foreign contractors were killed near Samarra in two roadside ambushes. A Colombian oil worker and two South Korean electrical engineers were killed when their vehicles were shot at on the Tikrit-Samarra road. Two Japanese diplomats were also shot and killed on the same road the previous day.

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