Abu Ghurayb prisoners killed by fellow insurgents in Iraq

20 Apr 2004 | Lance Cpl. J.C. Guibord

Insurgents fired 18 mortar rounds into the Abu Ghurayb prison April 20, killing 14 detainees and wounding nearly 100.

The rounds impacted the holding areas for the Iraqi prisoners, but did not injure any coalition forces.

"I was inside my room when the explosion blew out the wall of my cell," said Anmar, a wounded prisoner who wouldn't give his last name because of concerns for his safety.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy commander of coalition operations, explained the attackers might have been gunning for their countrymen to start a revolt, or to prevent them from speaking to interrogators.

"Our guys scratch their heads and say, why would they be shelling their own people, killing their own people?" Kimmitt said hours after the attack.

Insurgents have targeted the prison frequently, but the latest attack on the prison is the deadliest to date.  One Army soldier was killed two months ago and an attack in August killed six prisoners. 

Coalition forces responded to this attack by attempting to neutralize the threat while simultaneously providing immediate medical support.

"After the attack, the 1st Cavalry Division detected the suspected enemy location and fired four artillery rounds," said Lt. Col. Jeff L. Parshall, the I Marine Expeditionary Force ground watch officer.

Patrols in the area swept the suspected point of origin, but the anti-Iraqi forces had already fled, Parshall explained.

The Iraqi prisoners didn't know whether to feel happy their brethren were aiming at coalition forces or tired of being included in the attacks.

"I have no problem with the people who did this, they were aiming at the Americans," said Anmar, a prisoner who said he was earning his teaching degree prior to being detained. "It's fine that it happened this once, but I don't want it anymore. I would ask them to stop because they are hitting us."

Another wounded prisoner, who was tied down and gagged for attempting to bite the doctors and nurses that were helping him, felt differently about the attacks.

"I don't want anymore violence," said Hameed, a 30 year-old prisoner. "I want peace. I've always wanted peace."

Hameed, a former insurgent who says he used to be a mechanic, thinks violence will swallow the streets of Iraq if coalition forces leave.

"I do not feel safe inside or outside these walls," said Anmar.