BAQUBA, Iraq - Witnesses and the Iraqi police said U.S. troops opened fire on a crowded minibus north of Baghdad on Monday, killing five members of the same family, including two children, and wounding four others.
The U.S. military said it was looking into the incident but did not confirm its involvement or provide any other details.
One of the survivors told Reuters the family was traveling from Balad, a town about 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad, to the nearby city of Baquba for a funeral when they were shot at by a U.S. patrol as it approached them on the road.
"As we tried to move over to one side to let them pass, they opened fire," one of the survivors said. None of them would provide their names but said the family was headed by Mohammed Kamel.
They said the incident occurred at around 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) just outside Baquba.
Major Hussein Ali of the Iraqi police said the minivan the family was traveling in was taken away by U.S. forces shortly afterwards.
Police and the surviving family members said five people were killed, including two young children. Reuters television footage showed the dead children in a morgue in Baquba and relatives kissing another dead body on a morgue trolley.
"They are all children. They are not terrorists," shouted one relative. "Look at the children," he said as a morgue official carried a small dead child into a refrigeration room.
"We felt bullets hitting the car from behind and from in front," said another survivor with blood running from a wound to his head and splattered on his shirt. "Heads were blown off. One child had his hand shot off," he said.
Of those wounded, two were women and one was another child, the survivors said.
U.S. troops are frequently accused by Iraqis of shooting at civilian vehicles at checkpoints and roadblocks. At the same time, U.S. troops are attacked every day by car bombers in civilian vehicles who race at U.S. patrols or roadblocks.
The U.S. military says it does everything it can to ensure it does not fire on civilians, although it has also admitted in the past to accidentally killing civilians at roadblocks.
To avoid the possibility of being fired on, most Iraqis pull over to the side of the road when U.S. convoys approach.
The convoys generally travel with signs in Arabic telling people to stay back or away and warning them that deadly force will be used if they get too close.
© Reuters 2005