The Iraqi policemen were killed just after midnight local time when U.S. forces apparently mistook them for hostile fighters and opened fire, the Reuters news service reported. Eight other policemen were reportedly wounded.
News services reported that the police were in three vehicles that were chasing another vehicle suspected of carrying bandits.
During the pursuit, the police vehicles apparently approached an American checkpoint and the U.S. soldiers opened fire. The shooting reportedly continued for around an hour. A Jordanian border guard was also reportedly killed and several other police officers were wounded. Witnesses told Reuters that three of the suspected bandits were also killed.
“They continued firing for about an hour despite our pleas for them to stop and to tell them we are police and security,” one of the wounded police officers, identified as Mohammed, told Reuters.
The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid, reporting from Baghdad, said surviving police officers “complained that they were wearing uniforms and at least two of their three cars were marked as belonging to the Iraqi police. They were chasing a BMW that they thought contained what they called ‘thieves.’ When they broke off the chase they turned back toward Fallujah which is where they encountered the American force.”
The Associated Press reported that a coalition spokesman said the U.S. soldiers were fired upon by rocket propelled grenades and automatic rifles.
In a separate incident, two U.S. soldiers were killed and seven were wounded while conducting a raid on houses in the town of Ramadi where suspected loyalists to the ousted Saddam Hussein regime were thought to be hiding.
Ramadi is located in the “Sunni Triangle,” a region U.S. officials have said contains many Saddam supporters and where the deposed dictator may be hiding. The area, running from Baghdad west to the town of Ramadi and north to Saddam’s hometown of Tikirt, has also been the scene for the vast majority of attacks on American soldiers since the end of major combat operations on May 1.
A gun and grenade battle reportedly broke out during the raid. Neighbors told Reuters that three Iraqis were also killed.
“Look at the blood all over the house. We are not to blame for this,” housewife Samam Kadhim said. “This is the American behavior — aggression toward Muslim houses.”
Reuters also reported Friday that Iraqi police officers and suspected car thieves battled with automatic weapons in downtown Baghdad. The suspected thieves were reportedly apprehended.
On Thursday, two U.S. soldiers were reportedly wounded in a bomb attack on a convoy of U.S. vehicles outside Ramadi.