U.S. Airstrike in Falluja Kills 17

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The New York Times

September 2, 2004

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) -- A U.S. airstrike late Wednesday targeted a suspected safehouse in Fallujah used by followers of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, U.S. officials said. The attack killed 17 people, including three children, and wounded six, hospital officials and witnesses said.

Witnesses said the strike hit a residence in the southern neighborhood of al-Jubail. People struggled to pull bodies from the rubble, while ambulances and civilian cars took the dead and wounded to the hospital.

U.S. forces have repeatedly carried out airstrikes in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, since Marines pulled back after a three-week siege of the city in April aimed at rooting out Sunni Muslim insurgents.

The U.S. military said in a statement that the latest strike used a precision-guided weapon to hit a safehouse used by al-Zarqawi's militants.

The strike, based on multiple Iraqi and coalition intelligence sources, targeted two buildings used as safehouses and meeting points for al-Zarqawi associates who had executed someone earlier Wednesday, the military said.

``The Zarqawi associates were observed removing a man from the trunk of a car, executing him then burying his body,'' the statement said.

Dr. Ahmed Hamid, at Fallujah General Hospital, said six adult civilians and three children had been brought in dead. An Associated Press reporter at the scene later saw eight more bodies removed from the wreckage.

Al-Zarqawi's followers have claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks across Iraq, including the beheadings of American businessman Nicholas Berg and South Korean translator Kim Sun-il.