U.S. helicopter kills dozens in Iraqi wedding party, say reports

BAGHDAD – Iraqi officials claim more than 40 people, including children, were killed when a U.S. helicopter fired on a wedding party in western Iraq early Wednesday morning.

The U.S. military said it could not confirm the attack and was investigating the incident.

“I cannot comment on this because we have not received any reports from our units that this has happened nor that any were involved in such a tragedy,” Lt.-Col. Dan Williams, a U.S. military spokesperson, wrote in an e-mail in response to a question from the Associated Press.

Iraqi witnesses said some of the wedding guests were firing into the air in traditional celebratory gunfire.

The attack took place in al-Qaim in the Anbar province, a desert area near the border with Syria and Jordan, a local official said.

Lt.-Col. Ziyad al-Jbouri, deputy police chief of the city of Ramadi, said between 42 and 45 people died in the attack, including 15 children and 10 women.

A hospital official in the area said 45 people were killed.

Al-Arabiya TV said more than 40 people were killed.

In July 2002, Afghan officials said 48 civilians at a wedding party were killed and 117 wounded by a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province.

U.S. military defended the action, saying American planes had come under fire.

Written by CBC News Online staff

http://www.cbc.ca/stories/2004/05/19/world/iraq_wed040519