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Up to 8 Iraqis' deaths blamed on U.S. attack

U.S. troops opened fire near a checkpoint south of Baghdad after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb, and a hospital official said Sunday that at least eight people were killed in the second American attack in two days to have deadly results.

In other violence Sunday, a U.S. soldier assigned to Task Force Baghdad was killed by a roadside bomb, while a Marine was killed in action in the volatile Anbar province.

Seven Ukrainian soldiers and one from Kazakstan died in an apparently accidental explosion at an ammunition dump south of Baghdad.

U.S. officials said they had no information about the checkpoint shooting, which occurred overnight Saturday. Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said a roadside bomb hit a U.S. convoy near a police checkpoint in Yussifiyah, 9 miles south of Baghdad, and troops opened fire, killing two police officers and three civilians.

Dr. Anmar Abdul-Hadi of al-Yarmouk hospital said eight people died in the attack and 12 were wounded.

American commanders recently announced a change in response to roadside bombings. Rather than pushing on after the blast, they now stop and try to engage the perpetrators, who may have detonated the explosives remotely.

Hours before the attack, the United States acknowledged dropping a 500-pound bomb on the wrong house during a search for terror suspects outside the northern city of Mosul. The military said five people were killed.

The house's owner, Ali Yousef, said 14 people died when the bomb hit about 2 a.m. Saturday in Aitha, a town 30 miles south of Mosul. An Associated Press photographer at the scene said the dead included seven children and seven adults. The discrepancy between the death counts could not be reconciled.

However, the Washington Post quoted residents as saying the Americans actually hit the correct house, killing an insurgent who they said had killed Iraqi security forces.

The residents of Aitha said the bomb hit the home of the Numan family, members of the prominent Sunni Muslim Jubori tribe, one of the largest in Iraq. Salem Jasem Jubori, who lives close to the house that was destroyed, said the head of the household was a middle-age man who "used to kill and cut" his victims, primarily Iraqi police officers and national guardsmen, in front of fellow villagers.

"He was ferocious, very fierce and wild," Jubori said.

The military had no immediate reaction to the villagers' account.

Nevertheless, such attacks are exactly what the United States does not want before national elections scheduled for Jan. 30.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked on ABC's This Week how he would define success in Iraq's election, and he acknowledged concern about what will happen after the vote.

"Success is putting in place a government that is really elected and represents all of the people of Iraq and creating an Iraqi security force that is able to protect the country and protect the people of Iraq," he said.

A U.S. soldier assigned to the Task Force Baghdad was killed in a roadside bomb explosion, the military said without specifying where the attack occurred.

A Marine assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force also was killed in action Sunday while conducting security and stability operations in the western province of Anbar, which is home to the volatile city of Fallujah, according to a military statement released today. More details were not provided and identities were withheld until relatives could be notified.

At least 1,353 U.S. military members have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

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