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Coalition forces bomb house near Mosul

Neighbors: Building exploded minutes after raid by U.S. forces

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- At least five people were killed when a coalition F-16 bombed the wrong target south of Mosul, Iraq, the U.S. military said Saturday.

U.S.-led multinational forces were searching for an insurgent cell leader and targeted a house, which was struck by a 500-pound bomb, the military said in a statement.

The correct target was nearby, the military said.

Witnesses told CNN that U.S. forces raided the house in the village of A'ytya. The witnesses reported hearing screams coming from the vicinity of the house, and then the forces left. Minutes later, the house exploded, they said.

Fourteen people lived in the house, neighbors said.

"(The) Multi-National Force-Iraq deeply regrets the loss of possibly innocent lives," the statement said.

Mosul has been a site of repeated violence in recent weeks. When the U.S. military launched an offensive in Falluja in November, there was concern that insurgents had fled to Mosul and would launch attacks from there.

The military recently conducted an offensive against insurgents in Mosul, but the violence has continued.

Friday night, gunmen abducted four public officials from Salah Ad Din province, according to a 1st Infantry Division spokesman.

The public officials were in two vehicles, coming from the southern city of Najaf, when gunmen attempted to stop them, Maj. Neal O'Brien said.

One of the cars escaped.

Only three officials have been identified. They are Khataan Hamada, Salah Ad Din Provincial Council chairman; Ali Ghalib, assistant governor for technical affairs; and Amar Aaiash, dean of the Tikrit University College of Law.

The abductions are the latest in a recent string of violence.

Attacks have claimed the lives of Baghdad's provincial governor; the security chief for Iraq's Independent Election Commission in Diyala province; the deputy director for the Iraqi Islamic Party in Mosul; along with U.S. soldiers and scores of Iraqi police and civilians.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has ordered a review of the security situation in Iraq amid concerns over the elections scheduled for January 30.

Rumsfeld asked a retired four-star general to conduct the review, a senior Pentagon official said.

Iraqi voters are expected to choose a 275-member transitional national assembly. That body will put together a permanent constitution that will go before voters in a referendum. If approved, the plan calls for elections for a permanent government.

Former Iraqi Governing Council President Adnan Pachachi said Saturday that interim Iraqi leaders should "enter into a serious dialogue" with opposition factions and he again called for the elections to be postponed.

Pachachi, a prominent Sunni politician, leads a group called the Independent Democratic Gathering, which has members on the ballot.

"The main thing is to have an inclusive election," he said. "If large segments of the population are left out, if there is a very low turnout in these troubled areas compared to high turnout in others because of the proportional representation system, they will not be legitimate."

Pachachi said he had been against an election postponement until late November when he and 15 Iraqi political parties called for a delay. The parties said there was insufficient time to prepare, campaign and create a secure environment for balloting.

Other developments

  • On Saturday, the Iraqi Council of Ministers announced the capture of Izz al-Dine al-Majid, a one-time bodyguard and second cousin to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Al-Majid was picked up during a raid in Falluja in early December, the statement said. He is also a cousin of Ali Hassan al-Majid, the Iraqi general known as "Chemical Ali," who is in U.S. custody.
  • The U.S. military is investigating an explosion that shut down an oil pipeline early Friday a few miles north of Tikrit, a military spokesman said. The explosion took place about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of Saddam's hometown. The fire was still burning hours later. A spokesman for the Army's 1st Infantry Division said sabotage is suspected, but no suspects have been arrested.
  • CNN's Cal Perry contributed to this report.

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