True freedom fighter killed in Iraq

From the San Francisco Chronicle, April 18:

A car bomb attack near Baghdad has killed a well-known activist from Northern California who entered war zones to record civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and secure aid for those caught in the crossfire.

Marla Ruzicka, 28, of Lakeport (Lake County), founder of CIVIC — Campaign for Innocent Victims of Conflict — died with her driver on the Baghdad Airport road Saturday when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of security contractors that was passing next to her vehicle, according to her family and news reports quoting U.S. Embassy officials in Iraq.

The target of the attack apparently was not Ruzicka’s vehicle, said her mother, who received the account from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

She was killed while traveling “to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb, part of her daily work of identifying and supporting innocent victims of this war,” said CIVIC representative April Pedersen in a statement on the group’s Web site.

From Alternet, April 20:

A week before she was killed by a suicide bomber,
humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka forced military commanders
to admit they did keep records of Iraqi civilians killed by US

Tommy Franks, the former head of US Central Command,
famously said the US army “don’t do body counts”, despite a
requirement to do so by the Geneva Conventions.

But in an essay Ms Ruzicka wrote a week before her death on
Saturday and published yesterday, the 28-year-old revealed
that a Brigadier General told her it was “standard operating
procedure” for US troops to file a report when they shoot a

She obtained figures for the number of civilians killed in
Baghdad between 28 February and 5 April, and discovered that
29 had been killed in firefights involving US forces and
insurgents. This was four times the number of Iraqi police

“These statistics demonstrate that the US military can and
does track civilian casualties,” she wrote. “Troops on the
ground keep these records because they recognise they have a
responsibility to review each action taken and that it is in
their interest to minimise mistakes, especially since winning
the hearts and minds of Iraqis is a key component of their