Wedding Party, Aftermath Of Attack Seen in Videos
Monday, May 24, 2004; Page A19
RAMADI, Iraq, May 23 -- The bride arrives in a white pickup truck and is quickly ushered into a house by a group of women. Outside, men recline on brightly colored silk pillows, relaxing on the carpeted floor of a large goat-hair tent as boys dance to tribal songs.
The videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck.
The U.S. military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr al-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safe house used by foreign fighters.
"There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Saturday.
But video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations scattered around the bombed-out tent. A water-tank truck can be seen in both the APTN video and the wedding tape, obtained from a cousin of the groom.
Prominently displayed on the wedding video, which runs for several hours, was a man with close-cropped hair playing an electric organ. Another tape, filmed a day later in Ramadi and obtained by APTN, showed the musician's body in a burial shroud -- his face clearly visible and wearing the same tan shirt he wore when he performed.
Kimmitt has denied finding evidence that children died in the raid.
However, a reporter obtained names of at least 10 children who relatives said had died. Bodies of five of them were filmed by APTN when the survivors took them to Ramadi for burial. Iraqi officials said at least 13 children were killed.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company