'US forces killed workers'

BAGHDAD - An aide of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr yesterday accused US forces of killing four civilians in Baghdad's Sadr City as raging bloodshed left more than 3700 people dead last month.

BAGHDAD - An aide of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr yesterday accused US forces of killing four civilians in Baghdad's Sadr City as raging bloodshed left more than 3700 people dead last month.

"US troops fired on a minibus carrying workers and killed a number of them in Al-Falah street at 6am today," said Imam Abdel Zahra al-Suwaidi from the Sadr movement.

"I condemn this shooting that targeted the workers and accuse US forces of repeating such acts that leave many victims every day," Suwaidi said.

A medic at a hospital said four people were killed and eight were wounded, including two women.

An Iraqi security source also confirmed the incident, saying US forces fired on the minibus.

The US military, when contacted, said it was "looking into the incident".

A daily dusk-to-dawn curfew is imposed on Baghdad from 9pm to 6am more than three years after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

US forces have regularly raided Sadr City, the bastion of Sadr's followers, many of whom are members of his Mahdi Army militia, to search for alleged leaders of kidnapping cells.

The military has often accused the Mahdi Army of kidnapping, torturing and killing members of Sunni Arabs in the sectarian conflict gripping Iraq that has left thousands dead.

A UN report said the conflict left at least 3709 people dead across Iraq last month.

"Hundreds of bodies continued to appear in different areas of Baghdad handcuffed, blindfolded and bearing signs of torture and execution-style killing," the report said.

"Many witnesses reported that perpetrators wear militia attire and even police or army uniforms."

The report comes a week before a meeting between US President George Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan next Wednesday. - Sapa-AFP

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