By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
BAGHDAD, Nov. 27 -- U.S. troops killed at least five Iraqis, including a child, when they fired at vehicles approaching checkpoints in two separate incidents, U.S. military officials and Iraqi police said Tuesday.
The deaths underscored the tenuous security environment, even as levels of violence have dropped in recent weeks. Iraqi police officials reported Tuesday that gunmen had targeted Iraqis who returned to their homes because of the improved security in the capital.
On Sunday, gunmen opened fire on returnees in the Hor Rajab enclave, killing seven people and wounding six. Iraqi security forces arriving at the scene clashed with the gunmen, killing eight people and capturing 15, police said.
On Monday, armed men stormed a house in Baghdad's Saidiya neighborhood, killing a woman and two children who were part of a displaced family that had recently returned, police said.
In the checkpoint shootings, Maj. Anton Alston, a U.S. military spokesman, said U.S. troops fired at a minibus in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood Tuesday morning, killing two people and wounding four. Iraqi police said three women and a man were killed in the incident. The passengers were employees of a bank, police said.
The minibus was traveling down a street that was off-limits to civilian vehicles, Alston said, adding that soldiers first tried to wave at the vehicle to slow it down as it approached the checkpoint.
"It failed to stop after a warning shot was fired," Alston said.
The other shooting incident occurred Monday during a military operation in Baiji, 150 miles north of Baghdad. U.S. troops, who had killed two insurgents earlier, spotted a vehicle speeding toward a checkpoint, the U.S. military said in a statement. Soldiers fired warning shots, but the driver did not stop. "Perceiving hostile intent, the ground force engaged, killing both men," the statement said.
Afterward, U.S. soldiers found a wounded child, who later died at a medical facility, the military said.
In violence Tuesday, two U.S. soldiers were killed in an explosion in Salahuddin province, north of the capital, the U.S. military said in a statement.
In Diyala province, northeast of the capital, a suicide bomber wearing an explosives belt detonated his load near a checkpoint of the provincial police headquarters, killing seven people, including five policemen, said Capt. Muhanad al-Bawi, a Diyala police official.
Police in Nineveh province, north of Baghdad, found the bodies of 15 prisoners from a local jail who had been kidnapped two days earlier by gunmen. All had been shot in the head, police said.
Special correspondents Dalya Hassan, Naseer Nouri and K.I. Ibrahim in Baghdad and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.