‘Close and deadly contact.’

“U.S. military officials say troops are trained to avoid civilian casualties and do not fire wildly,” the Los Angeles Times reports. “Iraqis, however, say the shootings happen frequently and that even if troops are firing at suspected attackers, they often do so on city streets where bystanders are likely to be hit.”

Since mid-February, Los Angeles Times stringers across Iraq have reported at least 18 incidents in which witnesses said troops had opened fire wildly or in areas crowded with civilians, usually after being attacked. The reports indicated that at least 22 noncombatants died in the incidents. Because they are based on various witness accounts and reports from hospital and police officials, many of whom refuse to give their names, it is not possible to independently verify most reports.

If the anecdotal evidence is an indication, such deaths often occur after troops are shaken by roadside bombs, as occurred when The Times employee’s son was killed April 17.