Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One Event, Two Different News Reports - Which Is The Truth?

A rural area north of Balad, Iraq, where U.S.-led forces conducted a raid Wednesday against suspected insurgents. Eleven people were killed, including five children, four women and two men, Iraqi police said. But the U.S. military provided a lower casualty count, saying an insurgent, two women and a child were killed.

CNN reports:
A U.S.-led raid on a suspected site of terror network al Qaeda in Iraq killed 11 civilians -- including five children -- according to Iraqi police, but the U.S. military said the death toll from the strike north of Balad was four.

In addition to the children, the youngest of whom was 6 months old, the dead included four women and two men, police said.

A U.S. military spokesman said a suspected insurgent, two women and a child were killed in the raid on a building about 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of Balad.

U.S.-led forces came under fire as they raided the building, said Maj. Tim O'Keefe. Air support fired on the site, and the targeted building and a vehicle were destroyed, O'Keefe said.

A man suspected of being a "foreign fighter facilitator" was taken into coalition custody and is being questioned.

Police Capt. Laith Mohammed told The Associated Press that U.S. warplanes and armor were involved in the strike, which flattened a house and killed the 11 people inside.

An AP reporter at the scene said the roof of the house collapsed, three cars were destroyed and two cows killed.

AP photographs showed the bodies of two men, five children and four other covered bodies arriving at a hospital in Tikrit accompanied by grieving relatives.

Blankets swaddle the bodies of young children reportedly killed in the U.S.-led raid. The children were taken to a hospital in Tikrit, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Police said five children were among the 11 killed in the raid. American-led forces came under fire as they approached the building north of Balad, according to U.S. Maj. Tim O'Keefe.

An unidentified man mourns over the bodies of family members killed in the U.S.-led raid as they arrive at a hospital in Tikrit. The raid, targeted at suspected members of terrorist network al Qaeda in Iraq, netted one "foreign fighter facilitator," who was taken into custody for questioning, the U.S. military said.

Reuters, however, reports something else entirely:
Reuters reports:
Eleven members of an Iraqi family were killed in a U.S. raid on Wednesday, police and witnesses said. The U.S. military said two women and a child died during the bid to seize an al Qaeda militant from a house.

A senior Iraqi police officer said autopsies on the bodies, which included five children, showed each had been shot in the head. Community leaders said they were outraged at the killings and demanded an explanation from the U.S. military.

Television footage showed the bodies in the Tikrit morgue -- five children, two men and four women. Their wounds were not clear though one infant had a gaping head wound.

A freelance photographer later saw them being buried by weeping men in Ishaqi, the town 100 km (60 miles) north of Baghdad where the raid took place.

The U.S. military said in a statement its troops had attacked a house in Ishaqi early on Wednesday to capture a "foreign fighter facilitator for the al Qaeda in Iraq network".

"Troops were engaged by enemy fire as they approached the building," spokesman Major Tim Keefe said. "Coalition Forces returned fire utilising both air and ground assets.

"There was one enemy killed. Two women and one child were also killed in the firefight. The building ... (was) destroyed."

Keefe said the al Qaeda suspect had been captured and was being questioned.


Major Ali Ahmed of the Ishaqi police said U.S. forces had landed on the roof of the house in the early hours and shot the 11 occupants, including the five children.

"After they left the house they blew it up," he said.

Another policeman, Colonel Farouq Hussein, said autopsies had been carried out at Tikrit hospital and found "all the victims had gunshot wounds to the head".

The bodies, their hands bound, had been dumped in one room before the house was destroyed, Hussein said. Police had found spent American-issue cartridges in the rubble.

"It's a clear and perfect crime without any doubt," he said.

Police in Salahaddin province, a heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency and the home region of Saddam Hussein, have frequently criticised U.S. military tactics in the area.

Police officers said the U.S. military had asked for a meeting with local tribal leaders. The Joint Co-ordination Centre in Tikrit which coordinates between U.S. and Iraqi security forces said later the meeting would happen on Friday.

Ishaqi's town administrator, Rasheed Shather, said the town was shocked: "Everyone went to the funeral. We want the Americans to give us an explanation for this horrible crime."

Photographs of the funeral showed men crying as five children, who all looked under the age of five, were wrapped in blankets and then lined up in a row. One man who described himself as a relative said one was just seven months old.

"They killed these innocent children. Are these considered terrorists? Is a seven-month-old child a terrorist?" he said angrily, speaking close to the remains of the house.

Local teacher Faeq Nsaef was also outraged: ""An entire family was killed. It's a barbarian act."

In January a U.S. air strike on a house in Baiji, further north, killed several members of a family. In December U.S. fighter jets dropped two 500-pound bombs on a village, also in the region, killing 10 people. The U.S. military said the people targeted had been suspected of planting roadside bombs. (Additional reporting by Ghazwan al-Jibouri in Tikrit and Aseel Kami in Baghdad)

Warning: Extremely graphic images here.

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