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"I think they thought we wouldn't shoot kids. But we showed them we don't care"

US soldiers shoot children picking ammo up off the battlefield. Guess they don't teach warning shots anymore: like many young soldiers -- he says he was anxious to get his first "kill" in a war
By Kieran Murray KERBALA, Iraq (Reuters) - When a young Iraqi boy stooped to pick up a rocket propelled grenade off the body of a dead paramilitary, U.S. Army Private Nick Boggs made a tough call. He unloaded machinegun fire and the boy, whom he puts at about 10 years old, fell dead on a garbage-strewn stretch of waste land. Boggs, a softly spoken 21-year-old former hunting guide from Alaska, says he knew when he joined the army 18 months ago he might someday have to make a decision like that. He hoped it would never come and, although he has no regrets about opening fire, it is clear he'd rather it wasn't a child he killed. "I did what I had to do. I don't have a big problem with it but anyone who shoots a little kid has to feel something," he said after fierce weekend fighting in this Shi'ite Muslim holy city that left dozens of Iraqis and one American soldier dead. As U.S. troops take the Iraq war out of the desert and into the main cities, they are increasingly seeing children in their line of fire. Many are innocent civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time and military officers concede that some have may have been killed in artillery or mortar fire, or shot down by soldiers whose judgment is impaired in the "fog of war." LEGITIMATE TARGETS But others are apparently being used as fighters or more often as scouts and weapons collectors. U.S. officers and soldiers say that turns them into legitimate targets. "I think they're cowards," Boggs said of the parents or Fedayeen paramilitaries who send out children to the battlefield. "I think they thought we wouldn't shoot kids. But we showed them we don't care. We are going to do what we have to do to stay alive and keep ourselves safe." The boy he killed was with another child of around the same age when they reached for the RPG and came under fire. Boggs thinks the second boy was also hit but other soldiers think he escaped and that he dragged his friend's dead body away. Boggs' platoon leader, Lieutenant Jason Davis, said the young soldier struggles with what happened even if he had no choice but to shoot. "Does it haunt him? Absolutely. It haunts me and I didn't even pull the trigger," he said. "It blows my mind that they can put their children into that kind of situation." Although Boggs plays down suggestions he was upset by the incident, he also says his view of combat has changed since Saturday, when his platoon came under intense RPG and rifle fire from the moment they entered Kerbala until way after nightfall. Before -- like many young soldiers -- he says he was anxious to get his first "kill" in a war. Now, he seems more mature. "It's not about killing people. It's about accomplishing a mission...When we talk, we don't say how scared we were. But we found out how you feel when an RPG hits the wall just up from you and you think 'Damn, I could have been right there'," he said. www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=focusIraqNews&storyID=2524098
horrible 07.Apr.2003 22:37

Ben Maras

this is so sick it doesn't even deserve a comment.

read other accounts of same incident 08.Apr.2003 13:01

RPG

This version doesn't make it so clear, but every other story I've seen concerning private Boggs suggests the boy picked up a RPG launcher -- not a grenade, not ammunition. A weapon.

Yes, it's tragic. But in a war, bad decisions -- like picking up unattended weapons -- can get you killed.

Another Senseless death 08.Apr.2003 14:48

Sarah Naomi Campbell

This article is infuriating on so many levels; for one, it reveals the dangerous mentality required on the battlefield. In order for the soldier, himself not much older than a child, to rationalize the murder of a child, he must transfer the blame for the action to someone else. In this case, and in many others, the person or entity to blame becomes the parents of the child. This ideological shift is disturbing, because it aligns citizens with the enemy. Killing a child is never ok. Period. This is why so many people agree that Sadaam is an evil and dangerous man, but disagreed with the naive and sad belief that bombing Iraq would someone save his people. Children are being killed, who would otherwise be alive. So many of us knew this would occur. When the military becomes involved in a country, it becomes nearly impossible to pyschologically separate the country's citizens from its military.

That soldier is responsible for that child's death. Regardless of whether the child was being used by Fayedeen, was a pawn in the war, was an evil seed, whatever, he was still a child. Sadly, the soldier may not be as eager as he once was to make his first 'kill', but once the war is over, and he realizes the degree to which he participated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, and for Bush's political motivations, the emotional damage will be even greater.

This is history making its tragic and ancient circle once again.