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Iraqis Report 43 Civilians Killed in Aziziyah

Iraqis Report 43 Civilians Killed in Aziziyah

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AZIZIYAH, Iraq (AP) Hospital officials and residents say 43 civilians were killed in a U.S. bombing and battle here April 2-3, one of the deadliest tolls for noncombatants known during the Iraq war, according to a U.S. radio report Friday.

The deaths happened in the village of Taniya, National Public Radio reported.

NPR correspondent John Burnett, reporting for "All Things Considered," broadcast details of 31 civilian deaths in Taniya. The bodies -- many of them children -- were brought to the hospital in the town of Aziziyah, southeast of Baghdad, after a night of coalition bombing, according to NPR.

Bomb craters 30-feet wide pocked an area of the village that, according to residents, once held about 20 adobe homes.

Lt. Col. Ed Worley of the U.S. Central Command in Qatar confirmed that F-15 Strike Eagles dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs in the vicinity on April 2. The munitions were aimed at tanks and tracked vehicles, Worley said, and the pilots who dropped them did not report missing any targets.

More civilians died the following day as the 5th Marines pursued the Baghdad Division of the Republican Guard.

Ahmed Abdel Hassan, who owns a tea shop in the area, told NPR the Iraqi resistance crumbled the morning of April 3rd. Several eyewitnesses said the battle then turned deadly for civilians as Iraqi soldiers fled alongside noncombatants. Aziziyah hospital records show 12 civilian deaths that day, along with 61 Iraqi fighters.

One U.S. Marine was shot in the leg.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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