|Traffic | Weather | Your account||Movies | Restaurants | Today's events|
Iraqi police say U.S. troops executed 11, including baby
Knight Ridder Newspapers
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraqi police have accused U.S. troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.
The villagers were killed after U.S. troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to a police document obtained by Knight Ridder Newspapers. The soldiers also burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house, the document said.
Accusations that U.S. troops have killed civilians are commonplace in Iraq, though most are judged later to be unfounded or exaggerated.
A U.S. military spokesman, Maj. Tim Keefe, said that the U.S. military has no information to support the allegations and that he had not heard of them before.
"We're concerned to hear accusations like that, but it's also highly unlikely that they're true," he said. He added that U.S. forces "take every precaution to keep civilians out of harm's way. The loss of innocent life, especially children, is regrettable."
Navy investigators announced last week that they were looking into whether Marines intentionally killed 15 Iraqi civilians — four of them women and five of them children — during fighting in November.
Report is unusual
But the report of the recent killings in the Abu Sifa area of Ishaqi, eight miles north of the city of Balad, is unusual because it originated with Iraqi police and because Iraqi police were willing to attach their names to it.
The report was compiled by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with U.S. military assistance. An Iraqi police colonel signed the report, which was based on communications from local police.
Brig. Gen. Issa al-Juboori, who heads the center, said his office assembled the report on Thursday and that it accurately reflects the direction of the current police investigation.
The case involves a U.S. raid conducted, according to the official U.S. account, in response to a tip that a member of al-Qaida in Iraq was at the house.
Neighbors agreed in interviews that the al-Qaida member was at the house. They said he was visiting the home's owner, a relative. The neighbors said the homeowner was a schoolteacher.
According to police, military and eyewitness accounts, U.S. forces approached the house at around 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. By all accounts, in addition to exchanging gunfire with someone inside the house, U.S. troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house.
But the accounts differ on what took place after the firefight.
According to the U.S. account, the house collapsed because of the heavy fire. When U.S. forces searched the rubble they found one man, the al-Qaida suspect, alive. He was arrested. They also found a dead man they believed to be connected to al-Qaida, two dead women and a dead child.
But the report filed by the Joint Coordination Center, which was based on a report filed by local police, said U.S. forces entered the house while it still was standing.
"The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men," the report said. "Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."
The report identified the dead by name, giving their ages. The two men killed were 22 and 28. Of the women, one was 22, another was 23, a third was 30 and the fourth was 75. Two of the children were 5 years old, two were 3, and the fifth was 6 months old, the document said.
The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.
A local police commander, Lt. Col. Farooq Hussain, interviewed by a Knight Ridder special correspondent in Ishaqi, said autopsies at the hospital in Tikrit "revealed that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed." Efforts to reach hospital spokesmen Sunday were unsuccessful.
Keefe, the U.S. military spokesman, said that he had seen photographs of the victims and had not seen handcuffs, which caused him to doubt the validity of the report.
Other Iraq news
Elsewhere in Iraq on Sunday, police found 14 more victims of alleged sectarian score-settling between Sunni Arabs and Shiites — men shot with their hands and feet bound and dumped in two Baghdad sewage-treatment ponds.
The discoveries raised the number of victims shot execution-style to well over 100 in just six days. On Tuesday and Wednesday, 87 victims were recovered, including 29 dug out of a mass grave on Baghdad's east side.
Nearly 1,500 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers sought to root out insurgents from farming villages an hour's drive north of the capital, and at least 21 other people died in insurgent and sectarian violence nationwide.
Iraqi politicians still had not formed a government more than three months after landmark elections for the country's first permanent post-invasion parliament, but they announced an agreement on naming a Security Council to deal with key matters while negotiations proceed.
The U.S. military said it released more than 350 detainees in Iraq on Saturday.
In a statement, the military said the releases were recommended by a review committee consisting of U.S. officers and Iraqi officials, which found no reason to hold them. All those released were men.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company