- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 20, 2008

BAGHDAD | American troops hunting for a suspected al Qaeda in Iraq militant raided a house Friday and killed seven people, including three women, drawing an angry protest from Iraqi officials.

The U.S. military said the raid in Adwar — a Sunni town 70 miles north of Baghdad and just south of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit — targeted an extremist responsible for suicide attacks and roadside bombings.

Neighbors and Iraqi officials said all the dead were from a poor family that had been uprooted by sectarian violence and had no links to the insurgency. Iraq’s government demanded that those responsible for the raid be punished.

The dispute comes as the United States and Iraq are negotiating a security agreement to replace the U.N. mandate for foreign forces, which expires at year’s end. Iraqi negotiators have insisted on oversight of U.S. military operations and the lifting of blanket immunity for American troops and security contractors.

Iraq’s largest Sunni Arab bloc denounced Friday’s raid. “Even if, as they claim, a man attacked them, that does not give them the excuse to target women and children,” said Salim Abdullah al-Jubouri, a spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front.

Dozens of people marched to the site chanting “God is great” and “We condemn this inhumane act.”

According to the U.S. command, troops acting on tips surrounded a house believed to be holding the suspected insurgent leader. They called for those inside to surrender during an hourlong standoff, but opened fire when an armed man appeared in a doorway, killing the main suspect, the command said.

The troops then called in an air strike that killed three other suspected insurgents and three women, the military said, adding that an Iraqi child was pulled from the rubble and taken to a U.S. base for medical treatment.

“Sadly, this incident again shows that the [al Qaeda in Iraq] terrorists repeatedly risk the lives of innocent women and children to further their evil work,” a military spokesman, Col. Jerry O’Hara, said.

Iraqi police and hospital officials put the death toll at eight and some said two men and a woman were shot down at the gate as they tried to surrender.

Police Capt. Mohammed al-Douri, who reported five men and three women killed, said one of the dead was Ali Hassan Ali, a truck driver. Mr. Ali called the police station about 2 a.m. to say U.S. troops had surrounded the house and opened fire, Capt. al-Douri said.

“He told us that the Americans were using loudspeakers ordering them to go out of the house, then the call was cut,” Capt. al-Douri said.

Tribal chief Sheik Faris al-Fadaam said the family moved from Baghdad more than two years ago after the head of the household, Hassan Ali, was killed because he was a Sunni policeman.

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