Friday February 9, 2007 3:16 PM
By LAUREN FRAYER
Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A U.S. airstrike hit a Kurdish position in northern Iraq, killing at least eight Kurdish troops and wounding six, Iraqi officials said Friday. The U.S. military said it was looking into the report.
The strike hit just before midnight Thursday in Mosul, according to officials with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the party headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a staunch supporter of U.S. efforts in Iraq.
Sheik Kabir Goran, deputy in charge of the party's branch in Mosul, said U.S. warplanes hit a guard post that was protecting the PUK branch in eastern Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. He said eight Kurdish guards were killed and six were wounded in the strike.
Goran identified those killed as peshmerga, members of the Kurdish militia that fought Saddam Hussein's regime for decades. Many peshmerga fighters have been incorporated into the Iraqi military since the U.S.-led invasion.
Maj. Gen. Wathiq Mohammed Abdul-Qadir, the commander of the provincial police, confirmed the airstrike and gave the same casualty toll.
Goran said U.S. forces went to the post after the airstrike and provided care to the wounded before returning them to the PUK branch. He said the Americans promised to return later Friday to explain what happened.
Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said the reports were being investigated.
Prominent Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman, who is not a PUK member but has strong ties to the community, expressed anger over the attack.
``This is not a good sign for the new security plan that they (U.S. forces) have started by attacking the people who support them,'' he told The Associated Press.
A separate U.S. airstrike killed eight suspected terrorists and destroyed a building south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Friday.
The attack occurred Thursday night in Arab Jabour, a mostly Sunni Muslim suburb south of Baghdad.
American troops came under ``heavy enemy fire during a raid targeting al-Qaida in Iraq terrorists and foreign fighter facilitators,'' the U.S. military said in a statement.
Coalition aircraft swooped in, dropping precision bombs on a building where eight suspects had barricaded themselves, the statement said.
All eight were killed. No U.S. forces or Iraqi civilians were injured in the attack, the military said.
An Iraqi army officer, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, confirmed the raid and number of people killed. He added that Iraqi soldiers did not take part in the clashes.
Elsewhere, gunmen dressed in Iraqi army uniforms swept into a village south of Baghdad, kidnapping 13 civilians and killing at least 11 of them, police said.
The attack occurred around 5 a.m. local time in Imam village, a predominantly Shiite town about 50 miles south of the Iraqi capital.
About two hours after the abduction, police found eleven bodies with gunshot wounds to the head and chest, and they were believed to be those who had been kidnapped, police and the Iraqi army said.
An Iraqi army spokesman acknowledged that the gunmen wore Iraqi army uniforms and drove military vehicles, but said they were not government soldiers.
``We did not have any duties in that area, and those vehicles do not belong to us,'' said 1st Lt. Murad al-Maamouri. ``They are terrorists of course.''
Al-Maamouri said Iraqi soldiers were patrolling the area on foot, searching for the other two captives.
The U.S. military said Friday that three U.S. soldiers were killed in fighting in Iraq's western Anbar province.
The soldiers, who were assigned to Multi-National Force - West, died Thursday from wounds sustained while conducting combat operations in the insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad, the military said in a statement.
Their names were withheld pending notification of relatives.
The deaths raised to at least 3,117 members of the U.S. military who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.