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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 January, 2005, 07:22 GMT
US raid hits wrong Iraqi target
Residents look at the demolished house
US forces have been accused of bombing innocent people before
An American air strike in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has hit the wrong target, the US military has admitted.

The bomb demolished a house in Aaytha, killing 14 people, according to local officials. The US put the toll at five.

The military said it "deeply regrets the loss of possibly innocent lives", and promised an investigation.

Several thousand US troops have been sent to the Mosul area recently to help quell the anti-US insurgency ahead of elections at the end of the month.

The house was not the intended target for the air strike
US military statement
The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says the bombing incident is an embarrassing admission by US forces, who have been accused of killing many civilians during recent military operations in Iraq, particularly in the Sunni Muslim city of Falluja in November.

In other developments:

  • A suicide car bomb south of Baghdad kills four civilians

  • The US says it has arrested a key member of a group in Mosul, said to be closely allied with that of al-Qaeda suspect Abu Musab al-Zarqawi

  • Three high-ranking provincial Sunni officials are kidnapped.

The US military said an F-16 jet dropped a 250kg precision-guided bomb during a search for a suspected insurgent leader early on Saturday.

"The house was not the intended target for the air strike. The intended target was another location nearby," the statement said.

"An investigation is under way to determine the facts regarding this incident."

The US has been focusing on Iraq's third largest city since it completed its offensive in Falluja in November.

US forces have been accused before of killing innocent people in both Iraq and Afghanistan after mistaking the celebratory gunfire at wedding parties for attacks on them.

In May, a US air strike near Qaim, a town on the border with Syria, killed about 40 people. Locals claimed that the strike hit a wedding party, while the Americans said it hit a gathering point for "terrorists".

In 2002, nearly 50 people at a wedding in Afghanistan were killed in a US air strike.

The devastation caused by the US air strike


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