US troops kill rescuer as Italian hostage is plucked to safety in Iraq
Rory Carroll in Baghdad, John Hooper in Rome and Sam Jones
Saturday March 5, 2005
American soldiers in Iraq opened fire on a car carrying an Italian journalist who had just been freed by kidnappers last night, injuring the woman and killing an Italian secret service agent who tried to protect her.
Joy and relief in Italy at the release of Giuliana Sgrena, who had been held hostage for a month, quickly curdled to despair and anger after the car taking her to the airport was fired on by US forces, who apparently thought they were under attack.
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Life and Death
A few minutes, that is how long our joy lasted. The time which goes from a phone call to another: the one telling us of Giuliana's freedom and the one which throws us into the killing of the person who more than anybody else worked to free her. Fifteen, maximum twenty minutes, the time to save one life and lose another. Within the absurdity of a war in which we all risk to get lost.
Sure, we are happy to be able to soon hug Giuliana, to be able to have her back with us, to go back and listen to and read her stories of peace. We owe it to what we have done in this very long month. All of us: we of il manifesto, the colleagues who helped us keep the attention on this abduction alive, the many people who with a phone call, a letter, or by coming to the streets kept the presence of our comrade alive even while she was forced to be silent. But we also owe it to those who worked night and day to find a contact with the kidnappers, to reach an agreement. People who are different from us, who speak a different language and uses different means. Yet with some of them we have been united with a common aim: to bring home a woman deprived of her freedom and to do it though a negotiation, not through those weapons which are the root of evil which for thirty days has taken Giuliana away from us. After those 15, 20 minutes of joy, last night we fell into a live drama. We are journalists and we must tell the story, but do not ask of us to be detached as a reporter should be.
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