Minister wants American forces to compensate victims
BAGHDAD: A U.S. helicopter fired rockets into a crowded Shia neighbourhood of eastern Baghdad on Thursday after gunmen shot at it, killing a young woman and enraging both residents and Shia politicians.
The U.S. military said the exchange of fire took place in Sadr City at about 1 a.m. as U.S. troops were pursuing a ``known terrorist associated with Ansar al-Sunnah,'' a Sunni Arab militant group that has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide attacks and beheadings.
``As troops were leaving the area in a U.S. military helicopter, men on a nearby rooftop began firing at the aircraft,'' said military spokesman Sgt. Stacy Simon. ``The helicopter returned fire with guns and rockets.''
The military had no details on casualties, but Sadr City resident Abdul-Hussein Shanoof said his 20-year-old daughter, housewife Ikhlas Abdul-Hussein, was killed. Mr. Shanoof was also wounded, along with another woman and a 2-year-old child.
Footage showed Mr. Shanoof's house with a large hole that had been blasted through his roof and rubble scattered inside. ``At night the aircraft bombed this and that house. One girl died. The aircraft remained bombing us until morning,'' a Sadr City resident, who declined to identify himself, told Associated Press Television News.
U.S. soldiers detained two unidentified persons before the attack inside Sadr City, the power base of radical anti-U.S. Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The area was the scene of fierce clashes between Shia militiamen and American forces in 2004 through to early 2005.
But American forces have been recently holding up the neighbourhood as a model of improving relations between the U.S. military and the Iraqi community. Transport Minister Salam al-Maliki, an al-Sadr supporter, condemned the U.S. attack and demanded compensation for victims.
3 U.S. soldiers killed
A roadside bombing has killed three U.S. soldiers south of Baghdad, the military said. It issued a statement saying the soldiers were killed on Wednesday by a bomb that struck their combat patrol. The deaths take the total of U.S. military personnel killed to 2,245 since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. AP