US air raid kills Iraqi civilians

Helicopter attack north of Baghdad kills at least 11, including women and children.

    Critics say US forces are often too hasty to call for air strikes on targets [EPA] 

    UN officials have expressed concern at the number of civilians killed in air strikes and said more care must be taken in military operations to protect them.
     
    Deadly attack
     
    Major Peggy Kageleiry, a US military spokeswoman in northern Iraq, said an Apache attack helicopter had spotted five men planting a roadside bomb near the city of Samarra, 100km north of the Iraqi capital.
     

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    The helicopter "engaged" the men, who then ran into a nearby house that was also targeted.
     
    Kageleiry said an initial investigation showed five "military age males" and six civilians were killed in the attack.
     
    "They chose to go into a house with civilians to hide. They endangered folks on the ground by doing that.
     
    "We send condolences to the families of those victims and we regret any loss of life," she said.
     
    But police and residents of the village of Djila gave a different account.
     
    Differing accounts
     
    They said the group of men attacked by the helicopter were three farmers who had left their homes at 4.30am (01:30GMT) to irrigate their fields.
     
    Two were killed in the initial air attack and the survivor ran back to his home, where other residents then gathered, said Abdul al-Rahman Iyadeh, a relative of the victims.
     
    The second air strike destroyed the house, killing 14 people, he said.
     
    Captain Abdullah al-Isawi, a local police officer, put the death toll at 16 people, made up of seven men, six women and three children.
     
    The US military is already investigating another deadly air attack in which nine children and six women were killed on October 11 during an operation targeting supposed al-Qaeda leaders 80km northwest of Baghdad.
     
    The Iraqi government has also protested against a weekend raid by US forces in the Shia stronghold of Sadr City.
     
    In that incident, US troops backed by helicopters said they killed 49 armed men. Police put the toll at 13 and said all were civilians, including two children.
     
    Critics say US forces often call in air attacks on buildings where fighters are believed to be hiding without taking reasonable care to find out who else might be inside.
     
    The US military insists fighters deliberately hide among civilians.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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