U.S. troops killed at least three Iraqi civilians and injured a child Tuesday during a raid north of Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. The attack came a day after the U.S. military said it had inadvertently killed nine civilians in an airstrike in Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad.
In a statement, the U.S. military said two men and a woman were killed during an assault on "a suspected terrorist cell." Insurgents, the statement said, fired upon U.S. soldiers, who then returned fire. The child was injured in the leg and taken to a hospital, the military said.
Iraqi police and witnesses provided a different account. They said the soldiers entered a tiny house in the village of Dour, 21 miles south of Tikrit, and opened fire on a family in their beds. Ali Hamad, 51, his wife, Naema Ali, 46, and their 19-year-old son, Dhia Ali, were all killed. Two daughters were also injured, including an 11-year-old who died at the hospital, witnesses said. Dhia Ali, witnesses said, was a member of a U.S.-backed Sunni paramilitary movement called Sahwa, or "Awakening," which is fighting the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq.
"When the American forces came, they opened fire immediately on my father's, my mother's and brother's heads and necks," said Nawal, 17, Dhia's sister, who was not injured. Afterward, she said, the soldiers "took my wounded sisters immediately to their base to treat them."
Iraqi police arrived three hours later and took the bodies away, said Capt. Mohamed al-Douri, a police spokesman. The U.S. military said the incident was under investigation.
In Taji, north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt at a checkpoint, killing eight members of another Awakening group, police said.
In the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, a roadside bomb near the city's municipality office targeted a police patrol, killing a civilian and wounding two members of the patrol, police said.
Funding war: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says a realistic estimate of next year's war costs is almost impossible to discern, in part because he doesn't know how many troops will be in Iraq this fall. In remarks prepared for a budget hearing on Capitol Hill today, he says "There are too many significant variables in play."
New flag: A new Iraqi flag, stripped of the three green stars of Saddam Hussein's toppled Baath party, was hoisted over the Iraqi Cabinet building Tuesday in a symbolic break with the past nearly five years after the U.S.-led invasion.
British advice: The United States could have avoided problems in Iraq if it had listened to Britain's advice, Prince Andrew said in an interview published Tuesday. The prince, who now promotes British business abroad, said Britain's history as an imperial power gave it valuable insights.