Iraqi residents say U.S. airstrike kills 30

Victims include women and children, witnesses in Ramadi say. The military has no immediate comment.

By Solomon Moore

Los Angeles Times

November 15, 2006

BAGHDAD — A U.S. airstrike in the restive town of Ramadi killed at least 30 people, including women and children, witnesses said Tuesday.

The aerial attack, which took place late Monday, brought the number of violent deaths reported in Iraq on Tuesday to at least 91, according to military sources and witnesses.

Dr. Barakt Mansi, a Ramadi physician, said many of the bodies arriving at the city's morgue Monday night and Tuesday morning were shattered and charred. Another physician, who identified himself only as Dr. Kamal, said some died because of delays created by American roadblocks and heavy fighting.

"It was difficult for us to reach the location because the Americans cordoned off the area," he said. "This increased the number of the dead — some of the injured could have been evacuated and kept alive."

U.S. military officials had no immediate comment on an airstrike in Ramadi. The military released a statement announcing that American troops in Ramadi killed 11 alleged insurgents in a series of attacks that appeared to be unrelated to an airstrike.

A Times correspondent in Ramadi said at least 15 homes were pulverized by aerial bombardment and families could be seen digging through the ruins with shovels and bare hands. Other families attempted to leave Ramadi on foot or gathered at the city hospital, where a passionate crowd called out "Allahu akbar!" or God is great, in unison.

"National reconciliation is a fiasco!" cried one bereaved relative.

Referring to a local Sunni Arab anti-insurgent group, another relative complained that "the Committee of Salvation is useless."

"They are calling for peace when it is time for jihad," the relative said.

The U.S. military, in its statement, said that American troops killed two alleged insurgents with small-arms fire as they attempted to set an improvised explosive device.

Fire from a tank killed three other suspected insurgents when they returned to the same site. "There were secondary explosions and the remains of the IED continued to burn for about an hour," the statement said.

After an insurgent attack on a U.S. military vehicle four hours later in the same area, U.S. forces opened fire with rifles and tank guns, killing four people who allegedly were stealing equipment. Two more were killed sometime later by American troops, the military said.

In northeast Baghdad, a car bomb detonated Tuesday near a crowded market, killing 15 people and injuring 16.

"I helped to evacuate the injured and the dead," clothing salesman Gaith Saadi said during a phone interview. "Merchants and customers are leaving the market as early as possible these days because of the explosions. We used to close down at 4 p.m., now we close at 1 p.m. Most of the shops in our market are closed and the owners have left Iraq."

Mortar rounds, suicide bombers and gunfire in the capital left at least nine other people dead.

In Baqubah, a fractious, polyglot city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, 18 people were killed Tuesday, including three Iraqi police officers, Iraqi authorities said.

In the northern oil hub of Kirkuk, gunmen attacked a house late Monday, killing four people and wounding two. On Tuesday, a bomb exploded near a police patrol vehicle, killing two people, including a police officer and injuring four civilians.

Gunmen in Kirkuk also attacked a barbershop, killing one hairstylist.

In Tikrit, the hometown of deposed President Saddam Hussein, a roadside bomb killed a police officer and wounded seven people.

*


moore1@latimes.com

Times correspondents in Ramadi, Baghdad, Baqubah, Hillah, Kirkuk and Tikrit contributed to this report.