US raid in Baghdad kills eight civilians


Baghdad : Iraq's interior ministry Thursday charged US forces with killing eight civilians during a raid in Baghdad's mainly Shiite Sadr City suburb.

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According to Iraqi news agency INA, the country's interior ministry charged the US forces of having killed eight civilians and wounded nine others during Thursday's operation in the neighbourhood, a stronghold of support for cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

A statement released by the US military had earlier said that three suspected terrorists were killed during the operation, which involved an initial gun battle followed by an air strike.

The individuals targeted during the raid were "suspected members of a secret cell terrorist network known for facilitating the transport of weapons and explosives from Iran to Iraq, as well as bringing militants from Iraq to Iran for terrorist training," the US statement said.

Intelligence reports, according to the US military statement, indicated that the secret cell had ties to a kidnapping network that conducts attacks within Iraq.

The soldiers arrested four suspects who are thought to have smuggled arms and mobile firing devices for armour piercing missiles into the country from Iran, the military said.

The suspects are also said to have taken Iraqi fighters to Iran for "terrorist training."

Meanwhile north of the Iraqi capital, Arab tribesmen in Baquba have said they will form a tribal alliance to cleanse the city and surrounding Diyala province of foreign fighters and those of the Al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist network, pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper reported Thursday.

Tribesman Sheikh Wameed al-Jabouri told al-Hayat that a number of tribes had signed a cooperation agreement to bring the city back to how "it used to be."

The Arab tribes in Baquba called on US forces in Iraq not to interfere with their plans. Deputy governor of Diyala province Sheikh Dari Fahd al-Assadi said "the US forces committed fatal mistakes in handling the security situation in Baquba."

Baquba, which lies 50 km from Baghdad, is the capital of Diyala province.

In other news, a terrorist group under the name Islamic State Soldiers in Diyala announced they had seized Wednesday nine Iraqi policemen and a defence ministry employee, threatening to kill them if their request of releasing women in custody was not met within 72 hours.