U.S. strike kills Kurdish officers

Several dead in accidental attack reportedly aimed at bomb-makers

February 10, 2007|By Louise Roug | Louise Roug,Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A U.S. airstrike accidentally killed eight members of a Kurdish security force and injured another six who were manning an observation point near a political office in the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi officials said yesterday.

The U.S. military said that five, not eight, Kurdish police officers died in the attack, which it said had been aimed at bomb-makers affiliated with al-Qaida.

U.S. military officials also said that three American soldiers had been killed yesterday during combat in western Anbar province. The attacks brought to 3,114 the number of U.S. troops killed since 2003, according to the Associated Press. South of the capital in Basra, a British soldier died in a roadside bomb attack and three others were injured, according to a statement from the British Ministry of Defense.

A statement from the U.S. military said that American troops had received intelligence that bomb-makers connected to al-Qaida were operating in the Karama neighborhood of Mosul. Seeing armed men near a targeted bunker, ground forces fired warning shots and made several calls in Arabic and Kurdish for the men to lay down their weapons, the statement said.

As the men began shooting at the ground forces, an American aircraft "observed hostile intention from the bunker and exercised proper self-defense measures in response to the assessed threat," said the statement. It expressed "deepest sympathies to the families of those individuals killed."

Kurdish officials reacted angrily, saying the airstrike on one of the main roads in Mosul was inexplicable.

"We don't have any explanation for what the Americans did," said Kabir Amir Koran, an official with a local Kurdish party.

Ali Sourchi, a 30-year-old grocer, said he had been watching a movie shortly before midnight when the power suddenly went out. He went outside to check his generator and saw the airstrike. He fled inside, fearing what might happen next, he said.

"Sounds of the bombings continued until 2:00 a.m.," he said. "In the morning, we found stone and rubble where the guards' position used to be."

Abdullah Bardi, an official with Kurdish militia forces, described the area as an insurgent stronghold.

"We have placed checkpoints in the area to secure the office and those who come through this way," he said, adding that Kurdish officials are investigating the strike. "We are not satisfied with an apology."

The U.S. military increasingly relies on air support during missions.

Another airstrike killed eight suspected insurgents Thursday night in Baghdad, according to a separate statement from the U.S. military.

Baghdad authorities said yesterday that they had recovered the bodies of 32 people dumped in various neighborhoods. Elsewhere, bombings and kidnappings continued to spread death and destruction.

A car bomb went off south of Mosul near a police patrol, injuring eight. Also north of the capital, in Kirkuk, a car bomb injured a police official and seven others yesterday. The previous night, another car bomb wounded a politician affiliated with the minority Turkmen party.

Authorities in Hillah, south of the capital, said yesterday that armed men dressed as police commandos kidnapped 13 men the previous night. Two were freed, but the bodies of the remaining 11 were found nearby.

Louise Roug writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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