U.S. soldiers fired Monday on a civilian vehicle they feared might hold a suicide bomber, killing at least two adults and a child, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Iraq's foreign minister said tests were underway to determine if the leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was killed in a weekend raid.
But the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/usa/2001/03/07/2892.html' target=_blank>U.S. ambassador cast doubt on whether the eight insurgents who died in the Saturday raid in Mosul included Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the country's most feared terror leader. "Unfortunately, we did not get him in Mosul," Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters.
U.S. troops fired on the civilian car because it was moving erratically outside a U.S. base in Baqouba, 55 kilometers (35 miles) northeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Steven Warren, a U.S. spokesman.
"It was one of these regrettable, tragic incidents, Warren said.
Dr. Ahmed Fouad of the city morgue and police officials gave a higher death toll, saying five people driving home from a relative's funeral had been killed, including three children.
Iraqi officials have long complained about American troops firing at civilian vehicles that fail to approach checkpoints carefully or otherwise appear suspicious. U.S. officials point to the heavy toll of suicide car bombers who often strike U.S. and Iraqi checkpoints.
The shooting near the U.S. base took place in a province that has experienced at least four major bombings in the last three weeks _ including a suicide car bomb Monday that missed U.S. vehicles but killed five civilians and wounded 12 others in the town of Kanan outside Baqouba.
Meanwhile, mystery continued to surround a deadly firefight that broke out when U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded a Mosul house believed used by members of the country's most feared terror group, al-Qaida in Iraq. Eight insurgents and four Iraqi policemen died in the assault, officials said. Three insurgents blew themselves up to avoid capture.
The raid took place in a mostly Kurdish area of eastern Mosul where attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces are fewer than in the western, mostly Sunni Arab part of the city. However, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/war/2003/03/23/44879.html' target=_blank>U.S. soldiers say many insurgents live on the eastern side, labeling them "commuter terrorists" who would launch attacks in the west during the day and return to their homes in the east at night.
Shahwan Fadhl Ali, who lives near the scene, said eight Arabs _ four men, a woman and a child _ had been living quietly there since last year. "They might have been Syrians or Jordanians but not Iraqis," he said.