US 'Friendly Fire' Kills 8 Iraqi Allies, Jordanian
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By Fadhil Badran
FALLUJA (Reuters) - American troops killed eight members of a U.S-trained Iraqi security force on Friday when they mistook them for guerrillas and witnesses said a Jordanian hospital guard was also killed in the crossfire.
Elsewhere in the restive "Sunni Triangle," where Washington suspects deposed President Saddam Hussein is hiding, two U.S. soldiers died and seven more were wounded in a botched pre-dawn raid in Ramadi likely to further fuel anti-American sentiment.
In Falluja, police officer Assem Mohammed told Reuters a joint force of the Iraqi police and the U.S.-backed security force were chasing thieves in a car shortly after midnight when U.S. soldiers opened fire, mistaking them for guerrillas.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. military but a spokesman said U.S. forces came under a rocket-propelled grenade attack in the area and one soldier was wounded.
"We were chasing a car when the Americans fired at us," Mohammed, who was wounded in the incident, said from his hospital bed in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad.
"They continued firing for about an hour despite our pleas for them to stop and to tell them we are police and security."
A wounded comrade lay on another bed, his white shirt drenched in blood. Other police officers confirmed Mohammed's report and put the toll at eight dead guards and three suspected thieves. At least six police and guards were also wounded.
The Jordanian military hospital in the area was badly damaged by crossfire, with the side of the one-story building peppered by bullets and shells. Spent bullet casings littered the road nearby, next to dried pools of blood.
An official at the field hospital, set up in April to provide medical services to the Iraqi people, confirmed a Jordanian guard died of wounds he received in the incident.
Jordanian Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif said four more security guards and one Iraqi working at the hospital were wounded, though he would not say who had fired on the hospital.
The Falluja Protection Force was set up by the U.S. military with volunteers to help Iraqi police control the unruly town.
In a separate incident two U.S. soldiers were killed and seven wounded when an American force raided a house in Ramadi, 100 km (60 miles) west of Baghdad in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" where support for Saddam is strongest.
There was a gunbattle involving small arms and grenades inside the house in the early hours of the morning, neighbors said. Reuters Television footage showed pools of blood inside the house and at its gate.
In confused accounts neighbors said three Iraqis also died.
"Look at the blood all over the house. We are not to blame for this," housewife Samam Kadhim said. "This is the American behavior -- aggression toward Muslim houses."
Some two hours earlier, guerrillas detonated a roadside bomb and fired small arms at a U.S. military convoy in central Ramadi, wounding two soldiers, a U.S. spokesman said.
Guerrillas have killed 71 U.S. soldiers since Washington declared an end to major combat in Iraq on May 1. U.S. officials blame attacks on Saddam loyalists and foreign Islamist fighters.
The head of U.S. forces in Iraq said this week guerrilla attacks were happening at an average of 15 a day. There were reports of more firefights in Baghdad and Falluja on Friday.
President Bush was due to travel to the state of Georgia on Friday to welcome troops home as he rallies support for the increasingly costly and dangerous postwar effort.
Key U.N. Security Council foreign ministers are due to meet in Geneva on Saturday to discuss a U.S.-drafted resolution to pull more international troops and money to Iraq.
France and Germany want to downgrade the U.S. political role in occupied Iraq and earlier this week jointly submitted amendments to the resolution in which they called for a stronger U.N. role in organizing elections and restoring Iraqi sovereignty. Russia presented similar proposals separately
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