BAGHDAD - U.S. forces shot dead a husband and wife and wounded their 9-year-old daughter during an early- morning raid yesterday on their home in northern Iraq, according to the U.S. military and Iraqi officials.
The American military said the man had been suspected of belonging to the militant group al-Qaida in Iraq, while local officials said he was a retired colonel with no links to insurgent groups.
The U.S. military said it raided the home in the Hawija district near Kirkuk after arresting a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq militant in a nearby house. Troops opened fire when the woman reached for something beneath her mattress despite repeated warnings, and a handgun later was found under the bed, the military said.
One of the bullets went through the woman's body and wounded the couple's daughter in the leg.
The man, angry over his wife's death, attacked the soldiers, and they shot him, according to the statement.
The chairman of the Hawija Council said the woman's husband, Dhia Hussein, had not been in al-Qaida in Iraq, as the U.S. military said.
"I personally know Col. Dhia Hussein; he is one of the former army officers, and he was trying to return to the new Iraqi army. He has no affiliations with any armed groups," council Chairman Hussein Ali Salih said.
He vowed to seek justice in Iraqi court over the fatal shooting in what would amount to a major test of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement that went into effect this month. Iraq regained full sovereignty, including responsibility for security from the Americans, on Jan. 1.
But under the security pact, American troops cannot be brought before the Iraqi judiciary for actions during combat operations.
"We will issue an official complaint to the Iraqi judiciary and demand to try those [involved] according to Iraqi law, since this operation was carried on by a special unit of American forces," Salih said.
"It's a hideous crime committed against a family in the Hawija district."
Local residents in the district village of Alewya, where the couple lived, said the raid involved helicopters and a security cordon that sealed off the village.