Freed Italian Hostage Recalls U.S. Shooting
ROME (Reuters) - Freed Italian hostage Giuliana Sgrena described on Saturday how U.S. forces sprayed her car with bullets as it neared safety in Iraq, wounding her and killing the man who had secured her release moments earlier.
U.S. forces at a checkpoint opened fire as the car carrying Sgrena neared Baghdad airport on Friday after she was released by the militants who had held her captive for more than a month.
Sgrena, a 57-year-old award-winning war reporter, returned to Rome on Saturday and looked in pain as she was helped off a government plane and into an ambulance.
"We thought the danger was over after my release to the Italians but all of a sudden there was this shoot-out, we were hit by a barrage of bullets," she told RAI TV by telephone.
Nicola Calipari, the senior secret service agent who had worked for her release, was telling her about what had been going on in Italy since her capture when the shooting started.
"He leaned over me, probably to protect me, and then he slumped down, and I saw he was dead," said Sgrena.
The U.S. military said its forces fired because the car was speeding toward their checkpoint.
The incident could rekindle anti-war sentiment in Italy, where public opinion opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and opposition parties could use the shooting to challenge the government.
It has caused the worst fall out in years between the United States and Italy, with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi taking the rare step of summoning the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.
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