BAGHDAD, Iraq – A U.S. airstrike Thursday killed 13 insurgents in a volatile area west of Baghdad, the military said. Local officials said 45 civilians, including women and children, died in the attack.
American forces launched the attack after intelligence showed suspected insurgents were assembled in two safe houses for foreign fighters northeast of Amiriyah, 25 miles west of Baghdad, the military said.
Five militants were detained and a weapons cache including armor-piercing ammunition was found in an initial raid on a nearby target, the military said. That operation was followed by the airstrike on the two suspected safe houses in which the military said 13 insurgents died.
Police and hospital officials in the area offered a conflicting account, saying the airstrike hit the village of Zaidan south of Abu Ghraib and flattened four houses, killing 45 people, including women, children and old people.
An Associated Press photo showed the body of a boy in the back of a pickup truck at the nearby Fallujah hospital and people there said he was a victim of the Zaydan airstrike. Other photos showed several wounded children being treated in the hospital.
Thamir al-Dulaimi, a doctor with the Fallujah Public Hospital, said 20 other civilians from the village were being treated, while a highway patrol officer said civilian cars were being used to bring the wounded to the hospital.
Amiriyah is in volatile Anbar province, an insurgent stronghold west of Baghdad where hundreds of U.S. troops have been killed.