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Last Updated: Monday, 5 July, 2004, 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK
Many dead in US Iraq air strike
A Falluja resident picks through the rubble of a house following a US air strike in June
The US says it has been targeting militant safe houses
At least eight people have been killed in a US air strike on the restive Iraqi city of Falluja.

The US military confirmed that it dropped six bombs in what it described as a "co-ordinated air strike against a mujahideen safe house".

It was the fifth US air raid on the area since 19 June.

The US says it has been targeting houses used by militants linked to al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who has been blamed for several attacks.

The latest US statement did not explicitly mention Mr Zarqawi.

Human remains

The raid took place in the east of the city at about 1915 (1515 GMT).

A US military spokesman said four 500-pound (227kg) bombs and two 1,000-pound (454kg) bombs were dropped.

At the scene, rescuers searched the remains for survivors and body parts.

One witness told AFP news agency he saw a woman and some children among the dead and wounded.

Falluja, about 50km (30 miles) west of Baghdad, suffered some of Iraq's worst violence in April when US marines and insurgents clashed in the streets.

Hundreds of Iraqis were killed.

An all-Iraqi force has been in charge of the mostly Sunni Muslim city since May, following a month-long siege by US troops.

The US says the city has become a stronghold for followers of Mr Zarqawi.

Last week it raised to $25m its reward offer for the capture of the Jordanian militant it accuses of masterminding a string of massive suicide bombings in Iraq.

Mr Zarqawi is also said to have been involved in the beheading of two hostages, American Nick Berg and South Korean Kim Sun-il.

The BBC's James Ingham
"Iraq's new government cooperated with the Americans, providing information that pin-pointed the target"

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