U.S.-led forces struck a safehouse used by followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah (search), the military said Saturday. At least seven Iraqis were reported killed.
An Associated Press photographer saw two houses go up in flames in the air strike in the city's Joghaifi neighborhood. Bodies seen in the vicinity of the buildings included women and children.
Dr. Suheib Ahmed at the city hospital said seven Iraqis were killed and 13 wounded in the air strike late Thursday, which flattened two houses on the northern edge of the city. The APress photographer counted five bodies and 11 wounded at the hospital.
The conflicting figures could not immediately be reconciled. U.S. military officers accuses Fallujah doctors of inflating the number killed and wounded in such strikes.
"Intelligence indicated that there were no innocent civilians at the terrorist safehouse at the time of the strike," the military said in a statement Saturday. "Several credible intelligence sources confirmed that members of the terrorist group used this location to plan for suicide attacks on innocent civilians and Iraqi forces."
The U.S. command says it has inflicted significant damage on al-Zarqawi's network during weeks of "precision strikes" against suspected terrorist hideouts in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad.