US troops kill eight people in latest Iraq violence


US troops killed eight people, including a 13 year-old boy and his parents, after their patrol was ambushed in an Iraqi town early this morning.

The US military claimed the patrol had killed seven "attacking terrorists" after it came under fire from rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.

Police said three of the victims were a 13-year-old boy and his parents who were shot dead when US soldiers entered their house in the Sunni Muslim town of Duluiya, about 90 km north of Baghdad.

Another was identified by a relative as Naim Owaid, 31, a policeman, who left home on Sunday wearing civilian clothes.

"He went out in the morning. Half an hour later we heard that he was killed and we saw his body lying in the street. We couldn't go to fetch his body," said his cousin, who asked not to be named.

Ibrahim Talib, 18, was also killed. "He went to see what was going on," said a relative.

Six people were also wounded in the fighting and seven detained for questioning, police said.

The US military said two US soldiers were wounded in the attack and evacuated to a medical facility.

A reporter in the town said there was heavy gunfire and the sound of explosions from 2 am until 4 am. When the fighting died down, residents emerged from their homes as US troops backed by armoured fighting vehicles occupied the town.

The reporter said at least three houses had been damaged in the fighting.

As helicopters hovered overhead, US troops handed out leaflets saying they did not regard Sunnis as their enemy and that they wanted to withdraw from Iraq as soon as the country's newly formed army was able to stand on its own feet.

The leaflets also asked residents to give them information about the activities of insurgents, who are waging a campaign against the Shia- and Kurdish-led interim government.

US soldiers later held a meeting with police and tribal leaders, one of whom called for the district to be allowed to set up its own militia.

"My father told the Americans that if they allowed us to form a regiment we could protect the district from terrorists," said Rajwan Hamid Shwesh, son of one of the tribal leaders.