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Eight die as U.S. air strike destroys Iraq house

Reuters | September 27 2006

U.S. air strikes destroyed a house during a gun battle before dawn in a restive city north of Baghdad which killed eight people, the military said.

U.S. forces had attracted fire from a building in Baquba during a raid in pursuit of suspected al Qaeda militants, the military said in a statement.

Soldiers initially killed two men and then ordered air strikes, which killed two more men and four women, it said.

Two other men and a woman were wounded, and the U.S. forces treated them before detaining the men and taking the woman to hospital. The statement described all the men killed and wounded as terrorists.

"Coalition forces strive to mitigate risks to civilians while in pursuit of terrorists. Terrorists continue to deliberately place innocent Iraqi women and children in danger by their actions and presence," it said.

Relatives said the dead were a family of seven and a neighbor.

"I was inside preparing for Ramadan morning meal. I heard explosions and shooting and I ran out," one young, weeping woman told Reuters television as neighbors held her arms.

"When I came back I saw all my family killed. My father -- four women and three men. All of them, including my brother and his pregnant wife. They took two of our family away, a man and a woman. They were wounded," she said. She did not give her name.

Baquba is in Diyala province where many locals are hostile to U.S. forces and al Qaeda militants have strong influence.

Earlier reports from Iraqi police wrongly described the air strikes as a mortar attack. The U.S. military said it knew of no mortar attack in the area and neighbors interviewed by Reuters television confirmed the building was hit by air strikes.

This month is Ramadan, when Iraqis wake before dawn for a large meal and fast during the day.

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