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'Fallujah will be a cemetary for Americans'
Fallujah - Furious Iraqis hacked up the charred remains of two civilians killed in an ambush on Wednesday, hung them from a bridge and vowed to make this rebellious town a cemetery for occupation soldiers.
Iraqis chant anti-American slogans on a bridge over the Euphrates River where charred bodies are hanging in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, Wednesday March 31 2004. Enraged Iraqis in this hotbed of anti-Americanism killed four foreigners Wednesday, including at least one U.S. national, took the charred bodies from a burning SUV, dragged them through the streets, and hung them from the bridge spanning the Euphrates River. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
The two victims were among four contractors killed in a brutal ambush in this hotbed town of anti-occupation activity west of Baghdad.
In Washington, the American state department said at least three of the victims were United States citizens.
"Three of the four are US civilians," an official said. "We're looking into who the fourth is. There's a possibility it's an American, but we haven't been able to verify that person's nationality yet."
US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy operations chief, told a press conference in Baghdad that the four were killed when two vehicles, both four-wheel drives, were ambushed and set ablaze in Fallujah.
Boiling with anger, demonstrators hurled rocks at the bodies that dangled from a bridge straddling the Euphrates River as they shouted: "Down with the occupation, down with America," an AFP correspondent witnessed.
The bodies, one of them headless, were then pulled down and placed on the ground for people to kick and slash with knives.
Young men strung a severed hand and a leg on an electricity pole on the main street Fallujah, where the attack took place early on Wednesday.
Four police officers in a car who were near the bridge at the time were seen leaving the scene without intervening.
The names of the victims and the organisation they worked for were not released. It was also not clear what they were doing in Fallujah.
The residents had dragged the two bodies from the scene of the ambush, carried out by assailants using small arms who left after the attack.
Witness Ali Mohammed, 31, said the convoy was made up of three cars.
"One of the cars managed to escape by speeding off. The second one was hit and the third tried to make a U-turn, but more armed men opened fire on it from the other side of the road," he said.
The two vehicles burst into flames, and young men threw rocks and stones at the blazing wreckage. One body was seen burning inside one of the cars.
As the flames died down men pulled one of the bodies out, laid it on the ground and mutilated it with shovels, hacking off parts and shouting "long live Islam."
"Fallujah will be the cemetery of the Americans," shouted one man, hiding his face with a scarf.
"We are ready to kill them all. We are waiting for them to return to take these bodies and cars, and we will then cut them all to pieces. Let them come back, if they are real men," he said.
"Revenge, revenge for Saddam" Hussein, the former Iraqi leader ousted by the US-led invasion troops last spring, shouted one group of men.
Witness Hammadi al-Issawi, 28, said the third vehicle had evacuated more casualties, some badly burnt.
Fallujah is a Sunni Muslim bastion that witnesses nearly daily attacks on US forces, their Iraqis allies and foreigners.
The orgy of violence coincided with the death of five US soldiers on Wednesday when a roadside bomb hit their convoy in the western province of al-Anbar where Fallujah is located.