US soldiers kill five girls in Iraq

US Marines fought with suspected insurgents in Ramadi, killing six Iraqis - one man and five females, including an infant – the US military said.

The fighting began after a coalition patrol discovered a roadside bomb in the Hamaniyah section of Ramadi and two Iraqi men fled to a house where they took up position on the roof, the military said.

As coalition forces removed the bomb, the suspected insurgents opened fire on the US Marines, who fought back with machine guns and tanks, the statement said.

Afterwards, coalition forces searched the house and found the six bodies, one man and five females, ranging in age from an infant to teenagers, the military said. Another female also was wounded but refused treatment, it said.

One of the Iraqi gunmen may have been wounded and removed from the scene by other militants, said the statement.

It said the battle resulted in no coalition casualties.

The military quoted residents in the area as saying the building attacked “was a known anti-Iraqi force safe house.”

Ramadi, which is 70 miles west of Baghdad, is located in Anbar province, where many Sunni-Arab insurgent groups are based. It has been the scene of some of the fiercest fighting between Marines and insurgents.

“In a very tragic way, today reminds us that insurgents’ actions throughout Iraq are felt by all,” said Marine Lt Col Bryan Salas, a military spokesman. “Efforts are under way to coordinate and offer available assistance to surviving family members.”

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