Saturday, March 29, 2008

Police: US airstrike kills 8 in Basra

RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer

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A woman cries after an airstrike in Basra, Iraq, Saturday, March 29, 2008.

Sat Mar 29, 2008

A U.S. warplane strafed a house in the southern city of Basra, killing eight civilians, including two women and a child, Iraqi police said Saturday.

The U.S. military had no immediate comment on the report, which came a day after the first American airstrikes were launched in Basra during a week-old offensive against militant followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Seven other people were wounded when the plane fired on a house in Basra’s Hananiyah neighborhood overnight, a local policeman said on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify whether those killed were civilians or combatants.

While the Iraqi police officer claimed it was a U.S. plane, British jets also have been providing air support in the area; it couldn’t be immediately confirmed whether the plane was British or American.

The British military had no immediate information but said it also was looking into the reports.

“We are aware of reports of incidents in the Basra area resulting in civilian casualties,” said Maj. Tom Holloway, a British military spokesman. “We are investigating those reports and do not have any further details at this time.”

AP Television News footage showed smoke rising from Hananiyah. Pools of blood and a destroyed pickup truck were seen outside the home hit by the plane.

American support in Basra came as Iraqi troops struggled against strong resistance in the city, the nation’s commercial center and headquarters of the vital oil industry. Clashes there have sparked retaliatory fights in Baghdad and other Shiite cities.

Continued . . .

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