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Karl Penhaul: Conflicting stories from Fallujah

CNN's Karl Penhaul
CNN's Karl Penhaul

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FALLUJAH, Iraq (CNN) -- A demonstration calling for U.S. troops to leave the Iraqi town of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, turned violent when shooting broke out between local civilians and members of the U.S. military.

CNN correspondent Karl Penhaul spoke to anchor Bill Hemmer about the incident and the conflicting reports of who fired first.

PENHAUL: We have been around to one of these city hospitals, a general hospital in Fallujah. A duty doctor there said he counted six dead in his hospital last night, more than 20 wounded that he treated personally. Other wounded came through the hospital doors that he didn't have time to treat.

We understand that more wounded, more dead, were taken to another hospital across town. We're trying to give you some exact figures from there. Residents of this sector where the incident took place say, in total, 12 civilians were killed. They say more than 50 were wounded.

The incident broke out when a group of demonstrators, about 200, marched towards the school where U.S. troops have been based for the last several days. Then, according to U.S. Army soldiers, the demonstrators opened fire first, with AK-47s.

The demonstrators say that didn't occur. (They say that ) some of their number did start throwing stones, and that is what prompted the U.S. soldiers to open fire. The demonstrators, however, say that at that point all hell broke loose, and their number started to fall, dead and wounded.

A bullet-riddled car is seen in a street in Fallujah on Tuesday after the incident Monday night.
A bullet-riddled car is seen in a street in Fallujah on Tuesday after the incident Monday night.

HEMMER: Karl, do we know how significant the U.S. military presence is in the town of Fallujah?

PENHAUL: In this particular school, it was a company-sized unit. We're talking probably no more than 120 men. The 82nd Airborne is here. More units have been arriving today. So at least one full battalion is here, possibly more. But on the western edge of Baghdad, this is also a key component of providing security in and around the capital.

HEMMER: And, Karl, quickly, can you tell us what the U.S. military plans on doing with that school?

PENHAUL: From what we understand, the U.S. military has said it will withdraw from the school. That could be later in the day. It could be tomorrow. We also understand that they have been talking, saying they may send in a tank unit to try to keep some kind of order here. They may withdraw altogether from this sector.

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