U.S. soldiers accused of killing 3 civilians

March 10, 2007|By New York Times News Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq --U.S. soldiers were accused yesterday of opening fire on a car carrying a family in the Sadr City district, killing a man and his two young daughters and wounding his son.

The allegations were made by the man's wife, who was in the car, and members of the Iraqi police at the scene. The American military command said in a statement that it was investigating an episode in Sadr City involving "an escalation of force," but it could not confirm any details of the account given by the man's wife.

The woman, Ikhlas Thulsiqar, said her family had turned from an alleyway onto a main street guarded by American soldiers. Seconds later, she said, a fusillade of bullets ripped into the car.

"That is a serious allegation, and we'll take a look and figure out what happened," Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman in Baghdad, said yesterday.

The deadly shooting appeared to be the first in the working-class district involving either the Iraqi or U.S. military since a joint force of more than 1,100 American and Iraqi troops began a house-to-house search for weapons and militants there last Sunday.

Also yesterday, the purported leader of an insurgent umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq, was captured in a raid on the western outskirts of Baghdad, according to Iraqi state TV and the Associated Press, which quoted a top Iraqi military spokesman.

The spokesman, Brig. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi, told the AP that the man, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, was caught in a raid in the Abu Ghraib district and was identified by another detainee. U.S. officials had no confirmation of the capture.

Last Sunday, Iraqi officials announced that they might have captured Baghdadi in Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, but the suspect turned out to be someone else. The Islamic State of Iraq has claimed responsibility for numerous major attacks in Iraq, including the kidnapping last week of 18 people, mostly police officers, who were subsequently killed.

In Diyala, American forces shot and killed three Iraqi army soldiers yesterday in a military-issue pickup truck after they failed to obey an American order to stop, Iraqi military officials said.

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