U.S. soldier killed as copter shot down in Iraq
Insurgents dressed as journalists fire on troops
A U.S. soldier prepares a mortar during a training exercise Friday in Tikrit, Iraq.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgent fire downed a U.S. Army helicopter near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, killing an American soldier and wounding another, a coalition military spokesman said.
It wasn't known immediately what insurgents used to strike the OH-58 Kiowa observation helicopter, said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition's deputy chief of operations.
The copter, which was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, was carrying a crew of two.
Responding to the helicopter's downing, U.S. troops were attacked by people dressed in clothes identifying them as journalists, Kimmitt said.
He said the attackers drove up to the site in two Mercedes cars and opened fire on troops. No one was hurt, but the troops tracked one car to a nearby house and arrested four suspects, who were being questioned, Kimmitt said.
Reuters reported that three Iraqis working for the news service were fired on by U.S. troops as they filmed a checkpoint near the crash, and the three were later detained by U.S. soldiers, the news service said.
On November 2, 16 U.S. soldiers were killed and 27 wounded when a shoulder-fired missile brought down a CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter near Fallujah, a hotbed of insurgency in Iraq.
In another incident, a U.S. military helicopter experienced mechanical failure Thursday, forcing the aircraft down southeast of the northern city of Mosul, according to spokesmen from the 101st Airborne Division.
One soldier had minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, Maj. Trey Cate said.
Around 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. ET), a warning light came on, indicating a problem with the tail rudder system, Cate said.
Seven passengers, including four crew members, were aboard at the time. Soldiers from the 101st and 4th Infantry Division, which controls the area around Mosul, secured the helicopter until its recovery.
Meanwhile, several explosions were heard late Friday just southwest of Baghdad, where officials at the Coalition Provisional Authority said there was an ongoing offensive operation in progress.
The officials said the offensive is utilizing attacks from the air, artillery fired from the ground and coordinated raids.
U.S. denies damage at mosque
The United States denies allegations by leaders of a Baghdad mosque that coalition troops tore pages from the Koran during a New Year's Day raid on the Sunni Muslim place of worship.
Coalition forces arrested 32 people -- including suspected foreign fighters -- and found a large cache of weapons at the Ibn Taymiyah mosque, according to Kimmitt.
Americans followed Iraq Civil Defense Corps troops and Iraqi police to try to ease concerns about desecrating the mosque, Kimmitt said.
"Despite the clear use of this mosque for criminal, terrorist and anti-coalition activities, great care was taken by coalition forces to uphold the sanctity of the mosque and to use the minimum amount of force necessary to conduct the operation," he said.
Mosque leaders invited a CNN crew into the building Friday to show what they said American soldiers had damaged, including several torn pages in the Koran, a gift from former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
"They tore up the book of God," said one mosque leader. "God will tear them up. They trampled the book of God with their feet. They had the pretext of weapons, but they have found no weapons but found the Koran and tore up the Koran."
Kimmitt said the Army investigated and determined the allegations were unfounded.
"There is no evidence to support that, and the coalition forces have been asked that specific question, and all deny taking any activities against some of the artifacts inside the mosque," Kimmitt said.
He said the mosque was a "hub of anti-coalition and anti-Iraqi activities" and was the scene of insurgency cell meetings.
A U.S. helicopter flies through morning mist near Tikrit on Friday. An American copter was shot down Friday near Fallujah, killing one soldier.
• Norwegian officials Friday arrested Mullah Krekar, the former leader of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Islam, which operates in northern Iraq. The Kurdish guerrilla group has been linked to al Qaeda and is blamed for attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq.
• Elements of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment on Thursday captured Abu Mohammed, a "high-value target" believed responsible for moving foreign fighters and money through the Al Anbar province in western Iraq, the U.S.-led Coalition Joint Task Force said. Abu Mohammed was captured near Rutbah, and a search of the area netted three others, small-arms weaponry and documents with possible links to Abu Mohammed's insurgent actions, the task force said.
• Kimmitt said Thursday that supporters of Saddam Hussein most likely carried out a New Year's Eve attack on a Baghdad restaurant. At least five people were killed in the blast, which leveled several buildings. (Full story)