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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Iraqi PM angry at 'US violence'
A still from the video footage obtained by the BBC

Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has criticised the US military for what he described as habitual attacks against civilians.

His comments came as his government launched an investigation into an alleged massacre by US marines of up to 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha.

Mr Maliki said he would ask the US for the investigative files into the incident, which took place in November.

Meanwhile the BBC has broadcast footage appearing to challenge US accounts of a second incident, in the town of Ishaqi.

The US military said it was investigating, amid claims that 11 civilians may have been deliberately killed by US troops in the incident, which took place in Ishaqi in March.

'No respect'

Mr Maliki told reporters violence against civilians was "common among many of the multinational forces".

Many troops had "no respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch", he added.

His remarks came a day after the BBC released video footage that appeared to show the aftermath of US action in Ishaqi, about 100km (60 miles) north of Baghdad.

Map

The US said at the time that four people died in a firefight after a tip-off that an al-Qaeda supporter was visiting the house.

According to the Americans, the building collapsed under heavy fire, killing four people - a suspect, two women and a child.

But a report filed by Iraqi police accused US troops of rounding up and deliberately shooting 11 people in the house, including five children and four women, before blowing up the building.

The video material obtained by the BBC shows a number of dead adults and children at the site with what our world affairs editor John Simpson says were clearly gunshot wounds.

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The pictures came from a hardline Sunni group opposed to coalition forces, which has in the past been accused of having links with al-Qaeda.

Our correspondent says the BBC was not given the footage but had to dig it out, adding that the group was not interested in Western news organisations and may have intended the pictures to go to al-Qaeda sympathisers abroad.

It has been cross-checked with other images taken at the time of events and is believed to be genuine. The US does not appear to be questioning its authenticity, our correspondent says.

Ethical training

Amid continuing disquiet about the earlier Haditha claims, the Washington Post on Friday reported that experts with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) hoped to exhume the bodies of several victims in search of evidence.

US marines are suspected of carrying out a massacre and then covering it up.

Bodies of Haditha victims
The US says it is still investigating what happened at Haditha

The forensic evidence was disregarded at first because the November deaths were reported as caused by a roadside bomb and not treated as crimes.

In the wake of the Haditha allegations, the US army on Thursday announced that coalition troops in Iraq were to have training on ethics. The BBC's Ian Pannell in Baghdad says the move is likely to be greeted with cynicism by many Iraqis, as the troops have long been accused of deliberately targeting civilians.

On Friday, the brother of a pregnant woman who says she was shot dead at a US checkpoint in Iraq told the AFP news agency that he would file a complaint against US forces.

The pregnant woman and a relative were shot dead by US forces as they rushed to hospital along a closed road, police and relatives say.

US forces said their car "entered a clearly marked prohibited area near coalition troops" in Samarra and failed to heed warnings to stop.

The brother, who was driving the car and was injured, said he had not seen or heard any warnings.




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