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US soldiers kill Iraqi tribal chief's son

US calls event a "tragic accident"

U.S. soldiers killed an Iraqi tribal chief's son and wounded his wife in what the Americans on Saturday called a tragic accident, although local accounts of the incident differed.

U.S. troops were travelling through the district of Kanaan, northeast of Baghdad, late on Thursday when Zhaheri tribe chief Thaher Zaihud al-Zhaheri's son, Ahmed, walked outside the family's front door and was shot dead, the tribal leader said.

Further gunfire wounded Zhaheri's wife in the leg.

According to the U.S. military, American soldiers were conducting a reconnaissance patrol ahead of a combined operation with Iraqi security forces when the "tragic accident" occurred.

"Villagers responded to what they thought were intruders and began firing in the darkness, which caused other residents to come out of their homes and also fire their rifles," a statement said.

"Thinking they were under attack, the U.S. soldiers returned fire to protect themselves. Regrettably, as a result of this gunfire exchange, a young man was killed and a woman was wounded."

Thinking they were under attack, the U.S. soldiers returned fire to protect themselves. Regrettably, as a result of this gunfire exchange, a young man was killed and a woman was wounded

Statement

Investigation launched

The statement said an investigation had been launched.

According to Zhaheri, however, there was no shooting prior to the family hearing a noise near their home and they thought there might be thieves in their village, Saisabanah.

"Ahmed went outside and when he opened the door and walked outside, the Americans shot and killed him," he told AFP.

"They continued shooting at our house and one bullet hit my wife's leg."

Zhaheri's account of the incident was repeated by an Iraqi military officer in Diyala's provincial security operations centre.

Saisabanah is a village of around 10 houses, and families there are known to have fought U.S. forces since the 2003 invasion.

Zhaheri's wife Sabiha Nahath Saud, 56, was in stable condition, according to Ahmed Alwan, a doctor at the main hospital in Baquba, Diyala's provincial capital.

Ahmed went outside and when he opened the door and walked outside, the Americans shot and killed him

Zhaheri tribe chief Thaher Zaihud al-Zhaheri\\\'s son