US Forces under Fire Killings of Iraqi Civilians Raise Tensions

Two Iraqi women, one of them pregnant, were shot by US-led coalition forces on Wednesday after their car failed to stop at a checkpoint. The incident could raise already high tensions after Iraq's prime minister condemned the alleged killing of civilians by US Marines last November.

US soldiers are seen reflected in a pool of water and blood resulting from washing the streets at the scene after a car bomb killed two civilians.

US soldiers are seen reflected in a pool of water and blood resulting from washing the streets at the scene after a car bomb killed two civilians.

The US military said two Iraqi women were shot to death in a city north of Baghdad after coalition forces fired at a car that failed to stop at an observation post, according to the Associated Press. The announcement came after Iraqi police said a pregnant woman and her cousin were killed by American troops as they were driving to a maternity hospital in Samarra, a Sunni city 100 kilometers north of Baghdad.

Television news footage showed bodies wrapped in sheets outside a hospital in Samarra, while residents pointed to bullet holes on the windshield of a car and a pool of blood on the seat. "I was with the victims, one of them was pregnant and about to give birth," a woman, who didn't give her name but said she was a relative of the victims, told the AP.

The incident could inflame tension in the country coming one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the alleged killings of Iraqi civilians by US Marines last November. In a television interview with the BBC aired on Tuesday, al-Maliki said the killings of some two dozen unarmed civilians in the western town of Haditha had not been justified and he warned coalition troops to be more careful.

"We emphasize that our forces, that multinational forces will respect human rights, the rights of the Iraqi citizen," al-Maliki said according to AP. "It is not justifiable that a family is killed because someone is fighting terrorists, we have to be more specific and more careful."

According to a senior US military citied by the New York Times on Wednesday, an investigator has uncovered evidence that contradicts claims that the Iraqi civilians in Haditha were victims of a roadside bomb. The three-week inquiry is the first official investigation into what appears to be an unprovoked attacked by US Marines that left 24 Iraqi civilians dead. Among the evidence that conflicted with the official account were death certificates that showed all the Iraqi victims had gunshot wounds, mostly to the head and chest.

"There were enough inconsistencies that things didn't add up," the senior official, who was briefed on the preliminary investigation, told the paper.


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