[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
US strikes kill '70 Iraq rebels'
Burials of victims of Sunday's bombings in Ramadi
Funerals were held for the dead on Monday in Ramadi
Helicopters and warplanes bombed two villages near Ramadi in western Iraq on Sunday, killing about 70 people, the US military says.

It said all the dead were militants, although eyewitnesses are quoted saying that many were civilians.

One of the air strikes hit the same spot where five US soldiers had died on Saturday in a roadside bombing.

The US statement said a group of insurgents was about to place another bomb, although local people deny this.

An F-15 warplane fired a precision guided bomb at the group, killing about 20 militants, the US statement said.

Several witnesses quoted by Associated Press said they were civilians who had gathered near the wrecked US vehicle and 25 had died.

Coalition forces continue to aggressively pursue terrorists whose aim is to kill Iraqi civilians and coalition forces in and attempt to disrupt the political process
US military statement
The victims were either standing around the wreck or scavenging bits of metal or equipment, witnesses said, as often happens after a successful insurgent attack.

In a separate incident, the US military said it had killed a group of gunmen who had opened fire on a Cobra attack helicopter from the village of al-Bu Faraj.

An F/A-18 warplane bombed a building where they were hiding, and 40 insurgents were killed, the military said. Witnesses quoted by AP said at least 14 of the dead were civilians.

"Coalition forces continue to aggressively pursue terrorists whose aim is to kill Iraqi civilians and coalition forces in and attempt to disrupt the political process," the US statement said.

Constitution vote

Ramadi, in the mainly Sunni Arab province of Anbar, is a stronghold for anti-US insurgents.

Initial results show that very few local people cast ballots during Saturday's referendum on Iraq's new constitution - either out of opposition or fear of militants', reprisals correspondents say.

Map showing Ramadi and Baghdad
Electoral officials continued counting millions of ballots on Monday, as partial results seemed to indicate the draft text was assured of approval.

Opponents of the constitution needed two thirds of voters in any three of Iraqi's 18 provinces to vote "No" for the proposals to fail.

That threshold was passed easily in the predominantly-Sunni Anbar and Salahuddin provinces, according to the partial results, but not in the mixed Sunni-majority provinces Diyala and Ninevah.

Sunni leaders are reported to have responded angrily, accusing US and Shia Muslim officials of fraud.

Final results from the vote, which has divided the country along ethnic and sectarian lines, are expected later this week. The head of the election commission said the turnout is running at more than 60%.

President Jalal Talabani has issued a decree setting 15 December as the date for the next vote in Iraq's political timetable, to elect a new parliament.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How the attacks took place



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific