Village disputes story of deadly attack

A group of villagers in Iraq is bitterly disputing the US account of a deadly air attack on 22 June, in the latest example of the confusion surrounding the reporting of combat incidents there. The BBC’s Jim Muir investigates:
On 22 June the US military announced that its attack helicopters, armed with missiles, engaged and killed 17 al-Qaeda gunmen who had been trying to infiltrate the village of al-Khalis, north of Baquba, where operation “Arrowhead Ripper” had been under way for the previous three days.
The item was duly carried by international news agencies and received widespread coverage, including on the BBC News website.
But villagers in largely-Shia al-Khalis say that those who died had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. They say they were local village guards trying to protect the township from exactly the kind of attack by insurgents the US military says it foiled.
The incident highlights the problems the news media face in verifying such combat incidents in remote areas
‘Al-Qaeda gunmen’ killed
They say that of 16 guards, 11 were killed and five others injured – two of them seriously – when US helicopters fired rockets at them and then strafed them with heavy machinegun fire.

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