Iraqis killed in US raid

Eleven people - most of them women and children - have been killed after US forces bombed a house during a raid north of Baghdad, police and relatives said.

    Residents say 11 bodies were recovered after the attack

    Attacks by anti-US fighters killed at least four more people.

    The US military acknowledged the raid and said it captured one rebel fighter.

    It took place near Balad, about 80km north of the capital on Wednesday.

    But the military said only four people were killed - a man, two women and a child.

    Relatives however said 11 bodies, wrapped in blankets, were driven in the back of three pickup trucks to the Tikrit General Hospital, about 70km to the north.

    AP photographs showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered figures arriving at the hospital accompanied by grief-stricken relatives.


    The victims were covered in dust with bits of rubble tangled in their hair.

    "The killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children.

    The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death"

    Ahmed Khalaf
    Nephew of victim

    Riyadh Majid, who identified himself as the nephew of the killed head of the family - Faez Khalaf - told AP at the hospital that US forces landed in helicopters and raided the home early on Wednesday.

    Khalaf's brother, Ahmed, said nine of the victims were family members who lived at the house and two were visitors.

    "The killed family was not part of the resistance, they were women and children," Ahmed Khalaf said.

    "The Americans have promised us a better life, but we get only death."

    House flattened


    The US military said it was targeting and captured an individual suspected of supporting foreign fighters for al-Qaida in Iraq.

    The targeted house was flattened
    in the raid

    "Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," said Tech Sgt Stacy Simon, a military spokeswoman.

    "Coalition forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets."

    Police Captain Laith Mohammed, in nearby Samarra, said American warplanes and armour were used in the strike, which flattened the house and killed the 11 people inside.

    An AP reporter at the scene in the rural Isahaqi area said the roof of the house collapsed, three cars were destroyed and two cows killed.

    Baghdad blasts

    Also on Wednesday, bomb blasts killed at least four more people and injured dozens in Baghdad and north of the capital.

    The worst attacks were in Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad, where there were at least three explosions.

    A bomber on a bicycle missed a police patrol, killing two civilians and injuring six others, police said.

    The provincial command said the bomber's explosives appeared to have detonated prematurely as he was pedalling toward the patrol.

    Later, an explosion in a cell phone shop killed two more people and injured 12, police said.

    Police at the scene found apparatus used to detonate explosives, leading them to suspect the shop may have been used to manufacture bombs. At least five other shops were damaged in the blast.

    Another bomb targeting a police patrol injured two officers, police said.


    The Iraqi army on Wednesday
    arrested about 20 suspects

    The Iraqi army hit back on Wednesday, arresting about 20 suspects and confiscating numerous weapons in a dawn raid in a nearby farming area, said Lt Col Tarik Muhei.

    Authorities in the Shia holy city of Karabala, meanwhile, imposed a six-day driving ban starting on Thursday in a bid to protect pilgrims from a wave of sectarian killing.

    Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, hinted on Tuesday that US troop levels may increase slightly in the coming days because of the pilgrimages connected to the holiday of Ashura, which ends on 20 March.

    Increased attacks marked the celebration during 2004 and 2005.

    Rumsfeld said Gen George Casey, the top US military officer in Iraq, "may decide he wants to bulk up slightly for the pilgrimage." He did not elaborate.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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