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Iraq: U.S. military kills five children, two men and four women

By Amer Amery

03/15/06 -- TIKRIT, Iraq (
Reuters) - Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house.

Television pictures showed 11 bodies in the Tikrit morgue -- five children, two men and four women. A freelance photographer later saw the bodies being buried in Ishaqi, the town 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad where the raid took place.

The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi early on Wednesday to capture a "foreign fighter facilitator for the al Qaeda in Iraq network".

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," U.S. spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.

"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."

Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.

RUBBLE

Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children.

"After they left the house they blew it up," he said.

Another policeman, Major Farouq Hussein, said all the bodies had gunshot wounds to the head.

Pictures of the house targeted in the raid showed it had been reduced to rubble, while next to it lay the burnt-out wreckage of a truck.

Iraqi police said the U.S. military had asked for a meeting with local tribal leaders.

Photographs of the funeral showed men weeping as five children were wrapped in blankets and then lined up in a row next to freshly dug graves.

Police in Salahaddin province, a heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the home region of Saddam Hussein, have frequently criticised U.S. military tactics in the area.

In January a U.S. air strike on a house in Baiji, further north, killed several members of a family. In December U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village, also in the region, killing 10 people. The U.S. military said the people targeted had been suspected of planting roadside bombs.

(Additional reporting by Ghazwan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)

Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

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