Shiites claim coalition forces killed men in a mosque

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Shiite politicians raged against the USA and stopped negotiations on a new government after a U.S. military attack killed at least 16 people in what the Shiites said was a mosque. Iraqi police said gunmen fired on a joint U.S.-Iraqi patrol who were not far from the mosque. Police (and representatives of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) said everyone killed was in the complex for evening prayers and there were no gunmen.

AP video from Sunday night showed dead male bodies lying on the floor with gunshot wounds. The AP cameraman said it was filmed in the living quarters of the small mosque's Imam.

"In our observation of the place and the activities that were going on, it's difficult for us to consider this a place of prayer," said a U.S. military spokesman. "It was not identified by us as a mosque, though we certainly recognized it as a community gathering center. I think this is frankly a matter of perception."