U.S. airstrike to get militant kills 10 in Iraq

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- U.S forces dropped two tons of bombs on a purported militant safe house in Fallujah, killing at least 10 people, according to officials, and turning the building into a 30-foot-deep pit of sand and rubble.

The attack was the fifth airstrike in the past two weeks in the area where the U.S. military says Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi's network has safe houses.

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued an unprecedented statement saying his government provided intelligence to the U.S. military for the strike.

The interim government has been trying to figure out how to deal with the insurgents, and the airstrike came just hours after it postponed an announcement of new security laws to deal with them.

Meanwhile, Iraq's vital oil exports were cut nearly in half as workers struggled Monday to repair a key pipeline shut down after looters broke into it, officials with the South Oil Company and traders said Monday.

In Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, rescue workers picked up body parts after the U.S. airstrike, witnesses said. Video from Associated Press Television News showed the explosion flung bricks blocks away, and blood was splashed on a nearby wall.

Men gathered at the 30-foot-deep pit where the house had been and pulled out clothes, including a young child's shirt, from the rubble.

"Is this acceptable to the Iraqi government?" asked an angry man at the scene, who declined to identify himself. "Where are human rights?"

Dr. Diaa Jumaili of Fallujah Hospital said 10 bodies had arrived there, most of them dismembered. Previous U.S. airstrikes in Fallujah have killed dozens.

The military said it had dropped four 500-pound bombs and two 1,000-pound bombs. The attack used guided weapons and underscored the resolve of coalition and Iraqi forces "to jointly destroy terrorist networks within Iraq," the military said.

Al-Zarqawi, said to be connected to al-Qaida, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before U.S. forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.

The attacks have led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam Hussein loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.

Allawi has promised tough measures against the insurgents, who have been creating chaos here since the fall of Saddam's regime 14 months ago.

The announced cooperation with the airstrike appeared to be a first step toward that.

In a statement soon after the attack, Allawi said Iraqi forces provided the intelligence for the location of the al-Zarqawi safehouse so the strike could "terminate those terrorists, whose booby-trapped cars and explosive belts have harvested the souls of innocent Iraqis without discrimination, destroying Iraqi schools, hospitals and police stations."

Earlier in the day, Iraqi officials canceled a news conference Monday where they had been expected to announce a limited amnesty for insurgents and martial law in parts of the country.

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