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Angry Iraqis bury 10 officers killed by U.S. troops

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Ten Iraqi security officers were buried here Saturday in chaotic ceremonies as more witnesses to the scene in which they died contended that the officers had been killed by U.S. troops at close range even though they offered no resistance.

Two more police officers died Saturday of wounds from the shooting, which occurred early Friday after three vehicles filled with Iraqi security officers crossed paths with an American patrol outside a hospital near Fallujah. Their deaths raised the number killed in the shooting to 11, including a Jordanian hospital worker. No American soldiers were wounded in the incident, the U.S. military said Saturday.

The U.S. military on Saturday acknowledged that its forces had fired on the Iraqis and apologized for the deaths. "We wish to express our deep regret for this incident to the families that have lost loved ones and express our sincerest condolences," said Lt. Col. George Krivo. He said the soldiers had fired only after being attacked "from a truck by unknown forces."

U.S. forces have opened an investigation into the episode, said Sgt. Danny Martin, a military spokesman. Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, assistant commander of the 101st Airborne Division, will lead the investigation.

U.S. forces said shots were fired at them, but at the scene Saturday, the only spent ammunition in evidence was from U.S. weapons.

The occupying forces' expression of regret and the decision to investigate did not calm the tension on streets of Fallujah. In a chaotic mass funeral for seven Iraqi police officers at a mosque on the city's main road, mourners fired Kalashnikov rifles into the air and the crowd chanted anti-American slogans and warnings.

"Hot, hot or else the blood will run cold," mourners shouted, warning that U.S. troops will soon face revenge attacks. "Where will the wanted go to escape us?" Nearby, graffiti read, "U.S. Army will pay blood for oil."

The ceremony turned violent when two masked men holding rocket-propelled grenades jumped on a motorcycle while threatening an imminent attack on American soldiers. As photographers and television cameramen followed, the mourners surrounded and beat them, injuring at least two cameramen.

Meanwhile, two police officers who were slightly wounded in the Friday morning shooting offered accounts of the episode that were very similar to those offered Friday by a more seriously wounded officer.

None of the Iraqi soldiers fired their weapons, Adnan said. Jassim, the commander of the force, said he had been invited to the American base to pick up the bodies of the dead officers and had seen their rifles. In every case, the guns had their safety catches on, Jassim said.