Nine dead in gunfight after US-Iraq raid to nab Qaeda leader
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 23:27
  
Fallujah: Violence killed 18 people in Iraq today, including nine in a firefight that broke out during a joint US-Iraq raid in search of a top Al-Qaeda leader in the former rebel base of Fallujah.

Nine soldiers were also killed in a bomb attack in northern Iraq, just two weeks after Washington declared an official end to combat operations here and with no new government yet formed since a March general election.

In Fallujah, seven civilians and two Iraqi soldiers were killed in a gunfight between insurgents and a joint Iraq-US force early this morning.

The raid was the latest sign that, while Washington declared combat officially over on September 1, US troops continue to conduct joint operations and remain exposed to fighting.

Major Rob Phillips, a US Army press officer, said the raid had been conducted to catch a "senior AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) leader" who was responsible for major attacks in the region and had close ties to other top AQI leaders.

He could not say whether the target was arrested, killed or had escaped.

Major General Baha Hussein al-Karkhi, police chief for Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, said "a joint force from Baghdad was ordered to raid a terrorist's house in Jbeil (central Fallujah).

"Clashes took place when the terrorists fired at the troops. Civilians were caught in the crossfire. Seven were killed and four wounded.

"In addition to the seven (civilians) killed, two Iraqi soldiers were also killed in the clashes."

Others sources gave different tolls.

Phillips said six people were killed, while Fallujah police director Brigadier General Faisal al-Essawi and the city's media chief Mohammed Fathi put the death toll at eight civilians.

Essawi said of the eight killed there were two women and two children, while the other four included a former colonel in the Iraqi army during the rule of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

A vehicle ban was imposed on the city, and the area that was raided was cordoned off by security forces, one reporter said.

Another US spokesman, Major Bryan Woods, said an investigation would be started into the shootings.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the main northern city of Mosul, nine Iraqi soldiers were killed when the minibus they were travelling in was struck by a roadside bomb.

PTI


First Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 23:27


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