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Thousands of Shi'ite Pilgrims Descend on Iraqi City of Karbala as Fighting Continues


26 August 2007

U.S. forces bombed a house in northern Iraq Sunday after insurgents were seen entering the building following a firefight with U.S. troops.

Iraqi police say the air strike in Samarra killed seven civilians, including five children.

U.S. military officials have not confirmed the casualties, but say they regret any harm to civilians.

In another incident, an Iraqi Kurdish official says a U.S. airstrike killed four Kurdish policemen and wounded eight others today in northeastern Iraq.

A spokesman for Iraq's Kurdish Peshmerga militia, Jabar Yawar, says U.S. aircraft attacked two Kurdish police outposts near the town of Qara Tepe in Diyala Province in a possible case of "friendly fire."

The administration of Iraq's Kurdish region demanded an explanation for the attack. The U.S. military confirmed a helicopter strike on two vehicles and said it is investigating the incident.

In another development, British soldiers withdrew from a police base in the southern city of Basra and handed control to Iraqi officers.

The British military says a small group of soldiers had been stationed at the command center to train Iraqi policemen.

The handover of the base is part of a British plan to relocate troops to the outskirts of Basra and gradually reduce the British military presence in Iraq.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said coalition forces killed 11 suspected terrorists and detained six others in operations Sunday against al-Qaida militants in central and northern Iraq.

And, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shi'ites are converging on Iraq's holy city of Karbala for a major religious festival. Iraqi officials have banned vehicles from roads along the pilgrimage route to prevent sectarian attacks.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.



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