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9 Iraqis accidentally killed
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Nine Iraqis have been killed by accident in a military operation against al-Qaida, a US military statement said on Monday.

It said they were killed Saturday near the town of Iskandariyah, about 50 km south of Baghdad, adding that details are still under investigation.

Three other civilians, including two children, were injured and had been taken to a nearby US military hospital, the statement said.

A local police source told Xinhua that eight Iraqis, including two women and two men from the same family, were killed and one more wounded during the raid when US helicopters opened fire at the Tel Asmar village.

The men, along with four other males, were the members of the local Awakening Council, a civilian group cooperating with the US in fight against al-Qaida.

Shortly after the incident, US military leaders met with local sheikh representing the victims and expressed condolences to the families of those who were killed in the incident, the military said.

"We offer our condolences to the families of those who were killed in this incident, and we mourn the loss of innocent civilian life," the statement said.

The collateral damage was the most serious since last October, when six women and nine children died in a US air-raid in north of Baghdad.

Later, the US killed 49 militants in Sadr city, east of Baghdad. But the Iraqi side said a lot of them were civilians.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)

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