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Iraq Transition

U.S. troops fire on prison riot as 4 die

Allawi urges unity 'to build our future' after Iraq vote

Camp Bucca is a military prison facility near Iraq's border with Kuwait.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- American troops opened fire to put down a riot Monday at a prison camp in southern Iraq that left four inmates dead and six wounded, U.S. military officials said.

The riot at Camp Bucca began after a search for unspecified contraband in one of 10 compounds in the camp, according to a U.S. military statement.

The dead and wounded were the result both of gunfire and "violence by other detainees within the camp," the statement said, but no details were released.

The U.S. military said guards opened fire about 45 minutes into the riot, when verbal warnings and nonlethal measures failed to subdue the rioters.

"The facility's commander immediately deployed all available guards to the camp in an attempt to control the situation," the statement said.

"The riot quickly spread to three additional compounds, with detainees throwing rocks and fashioning weapons from materials inside their living areas."

The violence subsided after U.S. troops opened fire, the statement said. Three of the wounded were treated at the camp, and three others were taken to a military hospital for treatment.

U.S. commanders said the names of those killed were being given to the Iraqi government and the Red Cross.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Division has launched a probe into the riot, a move the Army said is routine in cases involving the deaths of prisoners.

Camp Bucca, south of Basra near the Kuwait border, houses about 5,300 prisoners. More than 2,900 of those were housed in the compounds affected by the rioting, the military said.

The camp was set up shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 as a detention facility for Iraqi troops captured in the early stages of the war.

A National Guard sergeant assigned there was reported to have died of "non-combat-related injuries" January 24.

Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba's May 2004 report on abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison also cited mistreatment at Camp Bucca. (Full story)

Ballots counted

Monday's prison riot came as Iraqi leaders turned their focus to the long process of building a representative, democratic government after Sunday's historic election. (Full story)

"Today we are entering a new phase in history," interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told a news conference. "It is a time for all Iraqis to come together to build our future."

Iraqis were electing a 275-member transitional national assembly, which will draft a new constitution and pick the country's next president and two vice presidents. The president will select a prime minister. (Structure)

The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq's Adil al-Alami estimated it may take 10 days to complete the counting.

While turnout was lower in certain Sunni Muslim areas -- where some groups and religious leaders had called for a boycott -- elections officials said it was better than many had predicted.

Insurgents had vowed to wash the streets with "voters' blood" on election day, and dozens of attacks were carried out Sunday in which at least 29 people died and 71 were wounded. (Full story)

Other developments

  • Three U.S. Marines were killed in action and two others wounded Monday "while conducting security and stability operations" in northern Babil province, the American military said, giving no further details. Since the start of the war, 1,433 American troops have died in Iraq, 1,096 in hostile action, according to the U.S. military.
  • U.S. and British investigators are seeking the cause of Sunday's crash of a Royal Air Force C-130 transport plane as a video surfaced of what appeared to be the aircraft's wreckage. Nine RAF service members and a soldier were missing and presumed dead after the crash, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon said in a written statement on Monday. (Full story)

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