Raid on arms smugglers in Iraq kills 5 villagers
Baghdad: A joint raid by American and Iraqi security forces on suspected weapons smugglers in a village near the Iranian border on Friday has left at least five people dead, the US military and Iraqi officials said.
There were conflicting reports following the fire fight between US-backed Iraqi forces and gunmen south of Baghdad. The US military said Iraqi forces killed five suspected militants, while a provincial official said at least 10 civilians were killed.
Iraqi security forces have been under heavy scrutiny following a string of embarrassing security lapses in recent months that have raised questions about their ability to take over as US troops withdraw from the country.
The raid by American and Iraqi troops took place in Ali al-Sharqi, a village north of Amarra, some 320 kilometres southeast of Baghdad, the US military said in a statement.
The US military said suspected Iranian-backed Kateb Hezbollah fighters opened fire on Iraqi security forces during the raid. It said five militants were killed in the ensuing gun battle.
But Maytham Lafta, a Maysan provincial council lawmaker, said at least 10 people were killed - including two women - and five others were wounded. Lafta identified the dead as "all innocent people”.
A provincial police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to release the information, also said 10 people were killed in the raid.
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