Most of the injured were civilians, who were trying to flee the site of the clashes, particularly those bombed by US forces earlier, Dr Rafya al-Isawi, director of Falluja hospital, told Aljazeera.  

 

"People and officials of Falluja have questioned the reasons behind the attempt by six US military vehicles to enter the city on Saturday morning, considering it a provocative act against them," Aljazeera correspondent Husayn Dali reported.

Tension

He said an atmosphere of high tension was prevailing among people of Falluja due to frequent US bombardment of houses on the outskirts of the city.

Smoke rises from a Falluja house
after a US air strike

US forces said the houses belong to armed men of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, but Falluja people and officials denied it, he added.

Earlier, United States military aircraft were seen bombarding sectors of Falluja after a mortar barrage, the correspondent said.

A number of houses in the al-Askari sector of the city were hit, he reported.

Aerial bombing

He said the aerial bombardment was preceded by mortar shelling.

Residents said they were surprised their district was targeted, as it was located far away from the site of earlier fighting.

 

The latest air strike comes on a day that saw fierce clashes between US troops and fighters in and around the city.

 

Clashes have been occurring in the
city throughout the week

Earlier, three Iraqis were killed and 15 others wounded in a foiled attempt by US occupation forces to enter Falluja on Saturday morning.

 

Aljazeera's correspondent in Baghdad said six US armoured vehicles tried to enter the city -50km west of the capital - from the east at about 0630 GMT on Saturday. But a fierce firefight pushed the armoured column back, he said.

 

There was no word on US casualties.

 

Thursday clashes

 

About 13 Iraqis have been killed and 14 others injured in clashes between anti-US fighters and US forces in Falluja amid reports of air strikes destroying homes on Thursday.

 

Dr Salim Ibrahim at Falluja general hospital estimated on Friday that 13 Iraqis were killed. He said he could not give an exact count of the dead because many of their bodies had been torn apart in the bombings.