US jets target Fallujah, 13 civilians killed
BAGHDAD: American warplanes struck a building in Fallujah where the US command said leaders of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s terror network were meeting early Friday.
A doctor said the attack killed 13 people, including a groom on his wedding night, and wounded 17 others. The US military said a “precision strike” hit a safe-house used by associates of Zarqawi at 1:15am. “Credible intelligence sources confirmed Zarqawi leaders were meeting at the safe-house at the time of the strike,” a US military statement said.
Dr Ahmed Saeed said most of the injured were female relatives of the groom who were staying at the house after the wedding celebration. “This attack shows that there is no safe place in Falluja, and the Americans are not differentiating between civilians and armed men,” said an Iraqi, Muhammad Jawad.
The US command, however, said “credible intelligence sources” reported terrorist leaders were meeting at the targeted house.
The latest attacks came as an aide to radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr offered on Thursday to disarm his Mahdi Army militia in a move that could bring an end to weeks of fighting in Baghdad. According to the US statement, those strikes have dealt a “significant blow” to al-Zarqawi’s movement, killing several key figures including his chief lieutenant Mohammed al-Lubnani and spiritual adviser Abu Anas al-Shami.
An Iraqi police officer was shot dead and two others were wounded on Friday as their patrol was attacked near Kirkuk, while two US soldiers were injured in a roadside bombing, officials said.
“Unidentified assailants opened fire on a police patrol 40 kilometres south of Kirkuk at 6:30am,” said Anwar Hamad Amin, commander for the national guard in the area.
“Lt Col Ali Hussein was killed and two policemen wounded, one of them seriously,” he said.
Later the same morning, a roadside bomb east of Kirkuk hit a US military convoy, injuring two US soldiers, an army spokesman said. A US warplane struck three suspected insurgents as they planted an artillery shell on a street in Baghdad’s northeastern Shia district of Sadr City on Friday, a military spokesman said.
“One guy was digging a hole and the other two were putting a 155 mm artillery shell into the hole,” said Capt Brian O’Malley, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division. All three were killed, he said. Blood stained the street where a funeral procession was held on Friday for two of those killed.
Late Thursday, rockets struck a Baghdad hotel crowded with foreign contractors and journalists, seen as a symbol of continued US and Western dominance since the formal handover of power to an interim Iraqi government June 28.
Three Katyusha rockets slammed into Baghdad’s Sheraton hotel, the Interior Ministry said, triggering thunderous explosions, shattering windows and setting off small fires. Dazed guests, including Western journalists, contractors and a bride and groom on their wedding night stumbled to safety through the smoke and debris.
Interior Ministry spokesman Col Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the rockets were fired from the back of a truck parked near Firdous Square. agencies