At the US congressional hearing on Friday protesters shouted, "Fire Rumsfeld for war crimes".

The seven protesters, members of the grass-roots group CodePink Women for Peace, disrupted Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee by standing, chanting and raising their hands and pointing at the defence secretary.

"We want Rumsfeld fired and there should be a wider investigation of the brutality of this investigation," said Gail Murphy, one of the group's founders.

At least one person wore a T-shirt with "Fire Rumsfeld" written on the back, and another carried a sign with those words.

"Our purpose of being in the hearing was to make it known to the senators and the American public that we are appalled," Murphy said by telephone. "He (Rumsfeld) has known about it but has done nothing about it until it was leaked publicly."

The group was allowed to interrupt the hearing for a few minutes before being guided to the exit.