Seen for the first time since her release, Giuliana Sgrena looked well in a video broadcast on the Arabic al-Jazeera satellite network.
She thanked her kidnappers for the way she had been treated. In Italy, news of her freedom was greeted with joy.
At the offices of her newspaper, Il Manifesto, delighted colleagues could barely believe the good news.
But then came the bombshell that shattered the party atmosphere.
News of the shooting incident was confirmed by the premier who went live on television to address the Italian people.
Silvio Berlusconi said that someone must take responsibility, adding that he had summoned the American ambassador to talk about what had taken place.
A telephone call with George W. Bush followed in which the US president expressed regret and pledged that a full investigation would be carried out.
The premier also offered his condolences to the family of the dead man Nicola Calipari, a father of two children.
The slain security agent’s body was being brought home in a separate plane from Iraq. Italy’s foreign affairs minister Gianfranco Fini meanwhile expressed the hope that the tragedy would not lead to an anti-American backlash. At Nicola Calipari’s home, floral tributes were left by well-wishers.