The AP runs yet another story on an insurgent victory:
Iraqi police say gunmen have released the 42 college students they kidnapped earlier in the day near the northern city of Mosul.
Brig. Gen. Khalif Abdul-Sattar says the gunmen initially released the only two girls aboard the hijacked bus. They later set free remaining occupants after making sure they were not members of the security forces. . .
Meanwhile, overnight clashes in Baghdad’s Shiite district of Sadar City left five dead and more than a dozen wounded, police said.
The incidents illustrate the continuing instability in Iraq as the top U.S. officials here prepare to brief the U.S. Congress this week on prospects for further reductions in the 155,000-strong American force. . .
The U.S. military had no immediate comment on the reported fighting in Baghdad that started Saturday night and continued with sporadic exchanges of gunfire until Sunday morning.
One can imagine the editor’s satisfaction. Insurgent victory: check. Clumsy mention of general unrest: check. Link to political agenda: check. No comment from the Coalition: check.
But wait, that bit about no comment from the Coalition is very specifically phrased. The Coalition had no comment on the story’s throwaway “meanwhile” bit, but what about the main story? The AP doesn’t say.
Fortunately we needn’t rely on the AP. Greyhawk tracks down a Coalition press release:
The Iraqi Army rescued 42 college students after they were kidnapped by insurgents in southwestern Mosul April 6.
The Iraqi Army detained one suspect, and Iraqi Police are currently searching for additional suspects.
After Iraqi Security Forces reported the kidnapping, a Coalition force aircraft spotted a suspicious vehicle thought to contain the students. The insurgents fled the scene after the vehicle was stopped.
Ah, the students weren’t kindly released by the insurgents, they were freed by the (much derided) Iraqi army, who also captured one insurgent and left the rest fleeing for cover; all of which the AP would have known if they had exercised any due diligence. But diligence can ruin a perfectly good story, can’t it?
UPDATE and BUMP: Oh geez, it’s worse than that. A Mudville Gazette commenter points out that the AP actually had reporters on-site, who put together a short film (“video essay“) about the rescue, but they still managed to get it wrong in print. On the positive side, the film is actually pretty cool.