The bullets fired at a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying two Japanese diplomats ambushed in Iraq last November were shot from a height of about 1 meter and a distance of no more than 4 meters, the Metropolitan Police Department said Monday.

The findings, based on a police inspection of the car, cast doubt on rumors that the shots were mistakenly fired by U.S. forces.

Katsuhiko Oku and Masamori Inoue and their Iraqi driver were assassinated on a road in northern Iraq. Their vehicle was shipped back to Japan last month for investigation.

The vehicle was riddled with 36 bullets, most of which were fired horizontally or from a low angle.

The machineguns mounted on U.S. military vehicles are about 2 meters from the ground.

Witnesses have said three or four other vehicles had been driving alongside the diplomats’ four-wheel drive. If the shots had been fired from these cars, this could support the findings in the Tokyo police report.

Police said the left side of the Land Cruiser bore the brunt of the attack, with 14 rounds hitting the front door, 18 the rear door and four in the car’s front section. Twenty-two of those shots had penetrated the vehicle, with one passing right through the car. There were no bullet holes in the roof, wheels or rear part of the car, they said.

Investigators were able to measures the entry angles at 10 spots, of which nine were fired horizontally or from a low angle. They reckon this indicates that shots were fired from more than one car simultaneously as they passed the diplomats’ car, or that one car sped past the Land Cruiser and concentrated a heavy burst of fire.

Many of the bullets had shattered into fragments from the impact of hitting the car’s bulletproof glass. Of the 120 metal fragments found inside the car, 49 were determined to be from bullets.

Ten of the bullet fragments found in the car were determined to have been 7.6mm caliber, and were regular bullets made of such metals as copper and zinc. Police said they were unable to determine the type of weapon or weapons used in the attack.

GSDF tightens security

SAMAWAH, Iraq (Kyodo) Ground Self-Defense Force troops in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah said Monday they have tightened security following a fatal clash between Shiite demonstrators and occupation troops in Najaf, some 150 km northwest of Samawah.

Security was tightened at the gates of the GSDF’s Samawah camp, while patrols were beefed up in the area with armored vehicles to prevent possible attackers from approaching, they said.

The GSDF contingent has gathered intelligence on the security situation from local police and Dutch troops in charge of keeping order in the area and reported to the Defense Agency in Tokyo.


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