Five young girls killed in US attack on Iraqi insurgents

Five young girls were among six Iraqis killed by US forces yesterday after troops used tanks and machine guns to attack what they said was a house occupied by insurgents.

Fighting broke out in the city of Ramadi, considered a stronghold of the anti-US insurgency, after a US patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of the city.

The military said that as the patrol worked to remove the bomb, two insurgents opened fire on them from the nearby house. The soldiers fired back with tanks and machine guns. When they later entered the house they found the bodies of the young girls. A sixth female was apparently also wounded but declined treatment.

Soldiers found the body of one man, presumed to have been one of two suspected insurgents running into the house. A statement from the US military said the body of the other man seen running into the house may have been removed by other fighters. "In a very tragic way, today reminds us that insurgents' actions throughout Iraq are felt by all," said the military spokesman Lt Col Bryan Salas. "Efforts are under way to offer available assistance to surviving family members."

The news comes after US government documents revealed that hundreds of private contractors have died in Iraq since the start of the occupation, with 10 British employees killed in the past two months.

US labour department officials have acknowledged that, since March 2003, 662 claims for compensation have been received from the relatives of contractors who have died working in Iraq.

While the documents, obtained during an investigation by Channel 4 News, provide an incomplete figure it does shed light on the largely unpublicised hazards facing those working in the industry. Some 48,000 private contractors work in Iraq, US officials say, double the number in 2005. Some are involved in reconstruction and logistical support, while others are engaged in security and escort work.

The death toll among Britons working in this industry has been particularly high in the past two months, surpassing that of British soldiers who have died during this period. Since 29 September, 10 British security contractors have died. A single attack caused a third of these losses. A roadside bomb hit a convoy operated by the security firm Erinys 20 miles east of Baghdad on 18 October. The British contractors Carl Ledden, 41; Noah Stephenson, 29, and Fraser Burnett were killed in the blast.

In an e-mail to a relativeweeks before his death, Mr Ledden, who worked protecting the US military, said he was unhappy about repeatedly travelling along the same route. "We are setting patterns here good-style and I wouldn't be surprised if we get hit," he wrote."

Erinys, which has contracts in Iraq protecting the American military, said: "Unfortunately, we are not in a position to comment whilst the incident is subject to a formal investigation, which is routine policy for all incidents involving our personnel."

Nick Paton Walsh's report will be shown at 7pm tonight on Channel 4 News

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Healthcare expertise

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Management, Communications and Fundraising

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf