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‘Innocents were killed’

Baghdad, July 31 (Reuters): Four days after US troops killed several passers-by in Baghdad during the hunt for Saddam Hussein, the US commander in Iraq admitted today that innocent people had died, but stopped short of accepting blame.

“On the issue of the innocent civilians that were killed and injured in that raid, we established some... traffic control points to isolate the area that we were operating in,” Lt Gen. Ricardo Sanchez told a news conference in answer to questions about the bloody raid. Angry neighbours accused the Task Force 20 special unit hunting Saddam’s inner circle of failing to block all the side roads leading to a house they were raiding on Sunday in Baghdad’s upscale Mansour neighbourhood. When a car strayed into the fire zone, soldiers blasted it with machineguns. US soldiers and medical staff at a nearby hospital told Reuters five men, including a teenager, were killed. Sanchez said he had heard that “up to five” had died and suggested the car had run through a checkpoint.

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