There are a lot of conflicting reports on this event so far, but what is known is that over 1000 Iraqis were listening to a speech by Mashaan 1l-Jaburi, the US-appointed governor of Mosul. Il-Jaburi was a former commander of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards who helped put down an uprising by Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq in 1991. He is also a member of Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress.
The crowd was strongly opposed to Il-Jaburi, and apparently became even more opposed when Il-Jaburi urged cooperation with the US, who raised a US flag over the over the compound.
The US reported that "targeted fire" was aimed at the US soldiers from the crowd which was advancing on their position, and that "targeted" fire was returned. Conflicting reports, however, suggest the crowd was "sprayed" with over 1000 rounds of fire. Iraqi police force members at the scene, some who were shot by the US soldiers themselves, suggest that US soldiers on top of the building complex confused warning shots by their forces to contain the demonstrators as fire against them, causing them to fire directly into the crowd.
Here are some quotes from witnesses to the event:
"They (the US soldiers) climbed on top of the building and first fired at a building near the crowd, with the glass falling on the civilians. People started to throw stones, then the Americans fired at them. Dozens of people fell."
"(The Americans) placed themselves between the civilians and the building. The people moved toward the government building, the children threw stones, the Americans started firing. Then they prevented the people from recovering the bodies."
News of the shootings spread, leading to another round of violent uprest in Mosul, where more people have died in the aftermath.
Significant protests have broken out in Iraq against the US occupation of Iraq. In Nassiriya, approximately 20,000 protesters chanting "No, no Chalabi!" protested against a US meeting to decide the fate of Iraq. In Baghdad, US military troops physically forced reporters away from a protest outside the Palestine Hotel, where many of the world's reporters are stationed.
"We want you to pull back to the back of the hotel because they are only performing because the media are here," said a marine colonel at the scene.