U.S. to probe deadly airstrike in Iraq

September 28, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military said it plans to investigate whether appropriate force was used when American soldiers called in an airstrike early yesterday during a raid that left eight Iraqis dead.

Four men and four women were killed in the pre-dawn clash in Baqoubah, a center of insurgent fighting north of the capital.

Witnesses initially reported the incident as a mortar attack, but a statement released by the Army yesterday afternoon said the house was targeted in a raid as troops searched for a suspected terrorist.

An Army spokesman said at a briefing yesterday that the troops called in an airstrike after encountering small-arms fire.

"It was an escalation of force that occurred," said the spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV. "They did in fact ask for the people to come out of the home. They did not do that. Instead they returned fire on the security forces."

But surviving family members and other witnesses said the attack was unprovoked.

A teenage girl said her parents, brother and pregnant sister-in-law were among the dead, and that she saw her family gunned down by the soldiers.

Sectarian violence subsided somewhat yesterday, but at least 20 killings were reported.

The Associated Press reported that at least 10 people were killed in a shootout last night near a Sunni mosque in Hurriya, a northern neighborhood of Baghdad.

In Baqoubah, two policemen were killed by a roadside bomb while transferring detainees.

A car bomb exploded in the marketplace of the Baya neighborhood of western Baghdad, killing five and injuring eight.

Maj. Raid Mijbil Abbas of the Interior Ministry's major-crime section was assassinated as he was driving his car in Baghdad.

Car bombs killed two people in Kirkuk, where an attack on a checkpoint late Tuesday left two Iraqi soldiers dead.

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