17 Iraqi Civilians Killed by US
In The News (UK)
October 17, 2007

American-led coalition forces in Iraq are so far not commenting on eyewitness claims that women and children are among the dead following the enemy engagement near Baquba, 60km north of the capital Baghdad.

"Seventeen people were killed, 27 were wounded and eight are missing including women and children," an unnamed Iraqi government official told al-Jazeera.

In an official statement, the US military said it had killed "an estimated 25 criminals" in an air strike at 02:00 local time (00:00 BST).

The army claimed it had been following up reports that a weapons smuggler associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard had been located in Baquba.

But after coming under heavy fire when coalition troops entered the Shia Muslim village of al-Jaysani, American commanders called in supporting aircraft, which levelled at least four houses.

According to eyewitnesses quoted by al-Jazeera, civilians were killed when they ran to help the gunmen.

"Coalition forces will take the necessary action against these criminals to protect the Iraqi people against future terrorist acts," Major Anton Alston, a spokesperson for coalition forces in Iraq, commented.

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