22 Iraqis killed in mosque clash

Aides to a radical Shiite cleric have reported that 18 people were killed by US and Iraqi forces at a mosque in eastern Baghdad.

india Updated: Mar 27, 2006 09:52 IST

Aides to a radical Shiite cleric have reported that 18 people were killed by US and Iraqi forces at a mosque in eastern Baghdad.

Police said 22 died, while the American military said 16 "insurgents" were killed by Iraqi special forces with US troops on the scene as backup.

"No mosques were entered or damaged during this operation," the military said in a statement at least five hours after the incident.

"As elements of the 1st Iraqi Special Operations Forces Brigade entered their objective, they came under fire. In the ensuing exchange of fire...(Iraqi troops) killed 16 insurgents. As they secured their objective, they detained 15 more individuals," the military statement said.

Police Lt Hassan Hmoud put the death toll at 22 with eight wounded. He said some of the casualties were at the Islamic Dawa Party-Iraq Organisation office near the mosque. The incident started when US forces came under fire from an unknown source in the direction of the mosque and the party office, he said.

Shiite legislator and party spokesman, Khudayer al-Khuzai, said 15 members of the party were holding a "cultural meeting" in an office near the Shiite mosque. "They have nothing to do with the acts of violence," he said.

Al-Khuzai claimed that after coming under attack, US forces raided the party office, "tortured" the men, dragged them out and "executed" them.

First Published: Mar 27, 2006 08:43 IST