4 U.S. Soldiers, Interpreter Killed In Iraq Fighting

Americans Blamed in Death of 4 Relatives

Khalid Mohammed 9, cries for relatives killed in a U.S airstrike near Tikrit. Iraqi and U.S. accounts of what happened were markedly different.
Khalid Mohammed 9, cries for relatives killed in a U.S airstrike near Tikrit. Iraqi and U.S. accounts of what happened were markedly different. (By Bassem Daham -- Associated Press)
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Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, June 26, 2008; Page A10

BAGHDAD, June 25 -- Four U.S. soldiers died in roadside bombings Tuesday and Wednesday, the U.S. military said, bringing to 10 the number of Americans killed in Iraq since Monday.

Three U.S. soldiers and an interpreter were killed in a roadside bombing late Tuesday in Nineveh province, a military statement said. In recent weeks, U.S. and Iraqi forces have stepped up operations against Sunni insurgents in the area.

An American soldier was killed in eastern Baghdad on Wednesday morning by an armor-piercing roadside bomb, the U.S. military said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Iraqi officials said a U.S. airstrike killed four members of a family north of Baghdad early Wednesday. Iraqi and U.S. officials provided conflicting accounts of the incident.

Capt. Ahmed al-Azwawi, a police official in Samra, a village about seven miles south of Tikrit, said U.S. troops were conducting an operation in the area when a man fired shots in the air with an AK-47.

Azwawi said the man, who sold propane gas for a living, was afraid thieves were in the vicinity.

U.S. soldiers then retreated and called in an airstrike, Azwawi said, killing the man, his wife, and two of their children.

The U.S. military said in a statement that soldiers carried out the airstrike after ground troops were shot at during an operation targeting al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group.

An armed man was seen walking toward a "group of buildings," the military said. They cordoned off the area and asked him to come out, the statement said.

When he "refused to comply," the military said, soldiers "perceived hostile intent from the armed man and called for supporting aircraft to engage the building."

The man, whom the military described as a member of al-Qaeda in Iraq, was killed, the military said. The statement did not address the reported deaths of the woman and children but said four women inside the damaged building "sustained minor injuries."

Azwawi identified the dead man as Afar Ahmed Zeidan. The police official said Zeidan's wife, Khawlah Talab, and two of their children, Noor Afar Ahmed, 8, and Alaa Afar Ahmed, 6, were also killed. Another child in the house was taken to a hospital in critical condition, the police officials said.

A man who said he was a cousin of Zeidan confirmed Azwawi's account, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he said he was afraid of retaliation.

Later Wednesday morning, U.S. troops in Baghdad killed three men who shot at them near Baghdad International Airport, the military said in a statement. The soldiers were in a parked armored car when men in a moving vehicle shot at them. U.S. soldiers returned fire, the military said. The car slammed into a wall and burst into flames, the military said, killing its three occupants. U.S. soldiers recovered a weapon from the vehicle.

In the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad, a bomb inside a minibus killed at least two people Wednesday night in the old part of the city, Iraqi security and health officials in the province said.

Special correspondents Aziz Alwan, Saad al-Izzi and K.I. Ibrahim in Baghdad and Saad Sarhan in Najaf contributed to this report.

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