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Iraq opens investigation into US killings

Negotiations to keep US troops in Iraq came under strain yesterday in the wake of WikiLeaks' release of a UN letter alleging that an Iraqi family was handcuffed and shot in the head in a 2006 raid by American forces.

Iraq's government said yesterday it will investigate the allegations. And some officials said that the document was reason enough for Iraq to force the American military to leave instead of signing a deal allowing troops to stay beyond a year-end departure deadline.

On 15 March 2006, US troops searching for an al-Qa'ida cell converged on a house in Ishaqi, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. The US military said the troops were hit by gunfire from inside the house, and called in an airstrike after a gun battle, destroying the house.

Twelve days later, UN investigator Philip Alston sent a letter to US officials saying autopsies had "revealed that all corpses were shot in the head and handcuffed". Mr Alston provided no details about the source of his information.