American Soldier Shot Dead in Iraq

The point-blank shooting of an unarmed British reporter on a Baghdad street and a grenade attack on a U.N. compound raised concern Sunday that Iraq's worsening insurgency -- until now targeting only coalition (search) troops and Iraqis accused of U.S. collaboration -- will spread to Westerners in general.

On Sunday, an assailant shot and killed a U.S. soldier waiting to buy a soft drink at Baghdad University (search), firing once from close range in the third such assault in nine days. The style was coldly similar to the killing of the young British freelance cameraman, who was shot in the head outside a Baghdad museum on Saturday.

U.S. troops on patrol in Baghdad and other areas have been attacked several times a day, and Iraqi police and civilians perceived to be working with the occupying forces also have been targeted. In the most serious such attack, a bomb blast in the western town of Ramadi (search) killed seven Iraqi police recruits as they graduated from a U.S.-taught training course on Saturday. Dozens more were injured.

U.S. Army Maj. William Thurmond said it was too early to tell whether a pattern was emerging that would suggest insurgents are targeting foreign civilians, but he said such a strategy could thwart news gathering and humanitarian relief efforts.

"Hopefully they're isolated events and we won't have to face them in the future," Thurmond said. "It might work to the advantage of someone who's trying to fight the coalition."

The killing of the television cameraman, 24-year-old Richard Wild, occurred around midday, while the victim was carrying no apparent sign that he was a reporter.

Wild, who arrived in the country two weeks ago aiming to be a war correspondent, was killed by a single pistol shot fired into the base of his skull from close range, colleagues said. The assailant fled into the crowd and was not apprehended.

The U.S. soldier killed Sunday at Baghdad University also was shot at close range. The soldier from the Army's 1st Armored Division was evacuated to a combat support hospital after the midday shooting. He died later, the U.S. military said.

In a similar incident, an assailant with a pistol shot and critically injured a U.S. soldier in the neck on June 27 as he shopped on a Baghdad street.

On Saturday, insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the United Nation's International Organization for Migration office in Mosul, 240 miles northwest of Baghdad. The grenade slammed into a wall and damaged several cars, said Hamid Abdel-Jabar, a spokesman for the U.N. special representative in Iraq.

"There's no place for that in any civilized part of the world," Thurmond said. "As soon as we get hold of them, they're gone. We'll find them. We'll attack them. And if necessary we'll kill them."

Meanwhile, the United States agreed Sunday to release 11 Turkish special forces detained during a raid in northern Iraq -- ending a standoff that strained efforts by the NATO allies to repair relations frayed over the Iraq war, a Turkish official said.

The Turkish soldiers will spend the night at a guest house in Baghdad and will be handed over to Turkish officials in Sulaymaniyah "at daylight" Monday, the high-level government official said on condition of anonymity.

The announcement came after Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Vice President Dick Cheney for about half an hour on the phone Sunday.

Also in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Turks and Turkish army officers suggested a local U.S. military commander overstepped his authority in ordering the raid. A Turkish paper said the raid came amid reports that Turks were planning to kill an unnamed senior Iraqi official in Kirkuk. Gul has denied any Turkish plot.

In other news:

-- An Australian NBC News sound engineer, Jeremy Little, died Sunday at a military hospital in Germany from complications following surgery for wounds he suffered June 29 in a grenade attack in Fallujah, NBC News said. Little, 27, was wounded when insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the military vehicle in which he was riding.

-- A group calling itself Wakefulness and Holy War claimed responsibility on Sunday for attacks on U.S. troops in Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim-dominated town 35 miles west of Baghdad. "We are carrying out operations against the American occupation here in Fallujah and other Iraqi cities," said the statement, released on Iran-financed al-Alam TV in Baghdad. "Saddam and America are two faces of the same coin."

-- U.S. forces killed two insurgents who fired a rocket-propelled grenade as they drove toward an army outpost in the capital on Saturday.

-- Insurgents fired a rocket-propelled grenade into a U.S. Army compound in the town of Abu Sada al-Sagra early Sunday, lightly injuring one soldier.

-- The military announced the end of a seven-day sweep dubbed Sidewinder, in which 30 Iraqis were killed and 282 detained, while 28 U.S. soldiers were wounded. The military said it confiscated ammunition stocks and hundreds of weapons.