BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) -- Reuters cameraman Mazen Dana, an award-winning journalist who had covered some of the world's hottest spots, has been shot dead while filming near a U.S.-run prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Eyewitnesses said Dana, 43, was shot by soldiers on an American tank as he filmed outside Abu Ghraib prison in western Baghdad.
His last pictures show a U.S. tank driving towards Dana outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank, and Dana's camera falls to the ground.
The U.S. military acknowledged on Sunday that its troops had "engaged" a Reuters cameraman, saying they had thought his camera was a rocket propelled grenade launcher.
"Army soldiers engaged an individual they thought was aiming an RPG at them. It turned out to be a Reuters cameraman," navy captain Frank Thorp, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Reuters in Washington.
Journalists had gone to the prison after the U.S. military said a mortar bomb attack there a day before had killed six Iraqis and wounded 59 others.
Recounting the moments before the shooting, Reuters soundman Nael al-Shyoukhi, who was working with Dana, said he had asked a U.S. soldier near the prison if they could speak to an officer and was told they could not.
"They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission," Shyoukhi said. The incident happened in the afternoon in daylight.
The soldier agreed to their request to film an overview of the prison from a bridge nearby.
"After we filmed we went into the car and prepared to go when a convoy led by a tank arrived and Mazen stepped out of the car to film. I followed him and Mazen walked three to four meters (yards). We were noted and seen clearly," Shyoukhi said.
"A soldier on the tank shot at us. I lay on the ground. I heard Mazen and I saw him scream and touching his chest.
"I cried at the soldier, telling him you killed a journalist. They shouted at me and asked me to step back and I said 'I will step back, but please help, please help and stop the bleed'.
"They tried to help him but Mazen bled heavily. Mazen took a last breath and died before my eyes."