Iraqis Blame British Airstrike for Civilian Deaths

Militiamen shelled British troops in this southern city Sunday, prompting strikes by British helicopters, witnesses said. Four Iraqi civilians were killed, and several houses were destroyed. Residents blamed British airstrikes.

The mortar fire at about 2 a.m. targeted the governor's building, where British troops are located in the city of Amarah (search), 180 miles southeast of Baghdad. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Soon after, British helicopters struck buildings in the city's Sadeq (search) district, witnesses said.

"There were helicopters circling the area, then they started firing," said Subeih Hassan, standing in front of his demolished house. Hassan's brother was killed in the attack.

Also killed in nearby houses were an 8-month-old child, a man in his 60s and a fourth man. At least eight people were wounded, according to the families whose homes were hit.

At least a dozen buildings were seen destroyed or damaged in the neighborhood.

A British military spokesman said he had no immediate information on the violence in Amarah.

The city was the scene of clashes Saturday between British forces and militiamen loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search).