US kills 9 civilians by mistake

2008-02-04 11:06
Baghdad - The US military said on Monday that it accidentally killed nine Iraqi civilians during an operation targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq south of Baghdad.

The civilians were killed on Saturday near Iskandariyah, 50km south of the Iraqi capital, US Navy Lieutenant Patrick Evans told The Associated Press. Three more civilians were wounded and taken to US military hospitals nearby, he said.

The incident and the events surrounding it are under investigation, Evans said.

The killings occurred as US forces pursued suspected al-Qaeda in Iraq militants in the area. Shortly after the incident, American officers met with a Muslim sheik representing citizens in the area, he said.

"We offer our condolences to the families of those who were killed in this incident, and we mourn the loss of innocent civilian life," Evans said in a statement e-mailed to the AP.

Saturday's strike was the deadliest known case of mistaken identity in recent months.

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