BAGHDAD - Iraqi policemen shot dead four US soldiers and their local interpreter in the main northern city of Mosul on Tuesday, an interior ministry official said.
"Four US soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter were killed by two Iraqi policemen who opened fire at them in the Dawasa district of (central) Mosul and then fled," the official told AFP, declining to be named.
The incident took place during a US army visit to the Mosul headquarters of the Iraqi police in charge of protecting the city's bridges, police said. The bullet-riddled body of the interpreter was taken to the local mortuary.
It was the third such fatal shooting involving US soldiers in just over a year in Mosul, one of the country's most restive cities.
On November 12, an Iraqi soldier shot dead two US soldiers in the city before being shot dead himself, but US and Iraqi officials differed sharply on what actually happened.
Iraqi officials said the soldier opened fire after an altercation with the Americans during a joint patrol in the city, but the US military insisted it was an unprovoked shooting inside an Iraqi army compound.
Mohammed al-Askari, Iraq's defence ministry spokesman, said at the time that the shooting took place during a joint patrol to inspect security procedures in Mosul, which the US army says is Al-Qaeda's last urban bastion in Iraq.
An official in the Iraqi interior ministry said "a US soldier slapped an Iraqi soldier during the patrol."
A similar incident took place in Mosul in January 2007 when an Iraqi soldier opened fire on American troops during the erection of a combat outpost in the city, killing two US soldiers, according to Iraqi officials.
US and Iraqi forces operate together throughout the country, and the United States has long said that the training of Iraqi troops and police is a central part of its military strategy.