Prime minister demands those responsible for deadly operation be handed over to Iraqi authorities
Residents of Kut shout angry slogans on Sunday, April 26, 2009, calling Americans “criminal occupiers” as they carry the coffins of two people killed in a U.S. raid. (Photo credit: Jaafer Abed / Reuters)
April 26, 2009
BAGHDAD – Iraq’s prime minister denounced a deadly U.S. raid on Sunday as a “crime” that violated the security pact with Washington and demanded American commanders hand over those responsible to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.
The U.S. military, however, strongly denied that it overstepped its bounds and said it notified Iraqi authorities in advance — in accordance with the rules that took effect this year governing U.S. battlefield conduct.
The pre-dawn raid in the southern Shiite city of Kut ended with at least one woman dead after being caught in gunfire and six suspects arrested for alleged links to Shiite militia factions.
But efforts were quickly launched in an attempt to tone down the dispute.
The six detainees were released, said Major Gen. Read Shakir Jawdat, head of the provincial police that includes Kut. At the same news conference, U.S. Col. Richard Francey offered condolences to the family of the woman killed.
Most serious test of security pact
The fallout marks the most serious test of the security pact so far and could bring new strains during a critical transition period.
U.S. forces plan to move out of most major Iraqi cities by the end of June in the first phase of a promised withdrawal from the country by the end of 2011.
A statement from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki – in his role as commander general of Iraqi forces – called the raid a “violation of the security pact.”
He asked the U.S. military “to release the detainees and hand over those responsible for this crime to the courts,” according to an Iraqi security official who read the statement to The Associated Press. …
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the mosque in Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, to decry the American action and demand an investigation. …
Operation was ‘approved’
The U.S. military said its troops acted within the framework of the security pact, saying “the operation was fully coordinated and approved by the Iraqi government.” …
At least one person died in the raid, which the U.S. military said targeted the financier of Shiite militia factions believed to be backed by the Iranians. Iraqi officials placed the death toll at two.
The Defense Ministry spokesman, Mohammed al-Askari, said an Iraqi brigade commander and a battalion commander were arrested for “allowing American troops to conduct a military operation in Kut province without informing the Iraqi government or coordinating with it.”
‘Stepped into the line of fire’
The military said a woman was in the area during an exchange of gunfire with one of the suspects and “stepped into the line of fire.”
It said those detained were suspected of aiding so-called “special groups” – Shiite militia factions that were once part of the Mahdi Army of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr – and another faction known as the Promise Day Brigades created by al-Sadr. …
Iraqi police officials say the wife and brother of a local clan leader were killed. They also say the soldiers arrested the clan leader, Ahmed Abdul Muneim al-Bdeir, his brother – an Iraqi police captain – and five others related to the al-Bdeir. …
A man carries the body of his granddaughter, who was killed in Baghdad on Friday in a bomb attack, in Najaf, 100 miles south of Baghdad, April 25, 2009. In a second day of major bloodshed in Iraq, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a Shi’ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad, killing 60 people, police said. (Photo credit: Reuters / Ali Abu Shish)
Following are security developments in Iraq on Sunday, April 26, 2009, as reported by Reuters.
KIRKUK – A Christian woman was killed inside her home in southern Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, police said. Another woman was wounded in the attack.
KIRKUK – Within hours of that raid [reported above], armed men stormed the house of another Christian family in the same part of Kirkuk and shot dead one man, wounding his brother and father.
BAGHDAD – A policeman was killed by a roadside bomb that exploded in the Doura neighborhood of southern Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – A man was killed in front of his home in eastern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.
MOSUL – Two brothers were killed in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, police said.
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