Up to 45 killed in US attack on Iraqi wedding party


An American helicopter fired on a wedding party in western Iraq today, killing more than 40 people, Iraqi officials have said.

The US military said it could not confirm the report and was investigating.

Lt Col Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of Ramadi, said between 42 and 45 people were killed in the attack, which took place about in the remote desert area near the border with Syria and Jordan. He said the dead included 15 children and 10 women.

Dr Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi, put the death toll at 45.

The Dubai-based Al Arabiya television reported that more than 20 were killed and 10 injured in the attack.

Associated Press Television News obtained videotape showing a truck containing bodies of people apparently killed in the missile attack.

Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless.

Iraqis said on a video tape that partygoers were firing in the air in traditional wedding celebration. American troops have sometimes mistaken celebratory gunfire for hostile fire.

"This was a wedding and the planes came and attacked the people at a house. Is this the democracy and freedom that Bush has brought us?" said one man on the videotape.

Another man on the tape insisted the victims were attending a wedding party "and the US military planes came ... and started killing everyone in the house."

APTN footage showed the truck of bodies and mourners with shovels digging graves over a wide, dusty area in Ramadi. A group of men crouched and wept around one coffin.

Ramadi is a stronghold of insurgents fighting the US led coalition.