Ten killed as US airstrike hits Fallujah

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The Independent Online

At least 10 people were killed when US forces dropped two tons of bombs on a purported militant safehouse in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, officials said today

At least 10 people were killed when US forces dropped two tons of bombs on a purported militant safehouse in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, officials said today

The bombing raid turned the the building into a 30ft-deep pit of sand and rubble.

The attack was the fifth airstrike in the past two weeks in the area where the US military says Jordanian militant Abu Musab Zarqawi's network has safehouses.

The Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a statement saying his government provided intelligence to the US military for the strike.

The interim government has been trying to figure out how to deal with the insurgents, and the air strike came just hours after it postponed an announcement of new security laws to deal with them.

Men gathered at the 30ft-deep pit where the house had been and pulled out clothes, including a young child's shirt, from the rubble.

"Is this acceptable to the Iraqi government?" asked an angry man at the scene, who declined to identify himself. "Where are human rights?"

Dr Diaa Jumaili of Fallujah Hospital said 10 bodies had arrived there, most of them dismembered. Previous US air strikes in Fallujah have killed dozens.

The military said it had dropped four 500lb bombs and two 1,000lb bombs. The attack used guided weapons and underscored the resolve of coalition and Iraqi forces "to jointly destroy terrorist networks within Iraq", the military said.

Al-Zarqawi, said to be connected to al Qaida, is believed to be behind a series of coordinated attacks on police and security forces that killed 100 people only days before US forces handed over power to an Iraqi interim government.

The attacks have led to fears that religious fanatics and Saddam Hussein loyalists may be joining forces to fight both the multinational force and the new Iraqi government.

Mr Allawi has promised tough measures against the insurgents, who have been creating chaos since the fall of Saddam's regime 14 months ago.

In a statement soon after the attack, Mr Allawi said Iraqi forces provided the intelligence for the location of the al-Zarqawi safehouse so the strike could "terminate those terrorists, whose booby-trapped cars and explosive belts have harvested the souls of innocent Iraqis without discrimination, destroying Iraqi schools, hospitals and police stations".

He appealed to all Iraqis to report the activities of insurgents.

"The sovereign Iraqi people and our international partners are adamant that we will put an end to terrorism and chase those corrupt terrorists and will uproot them one by one," he said in the statement.

Earlier in the day, Iraqi officials cancelled a news conference yesterday where they had been expected to announce a limited amnesty for insurgents and martial law in parts of the country.

In Baghdad, the US military said today that troops had fired on a car that failed to heed warnings to stop at a checkpoint yesterday, killing one child and wounding another.