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Iraq Transition

U.S. kills 6 in raid; Sunni lawmaker disputes account

Story Highlights

• U.S. says intelligence said target was al Qaeda safehouse
• Sunni lawmaker says his office was attacked based on false intelligence
• Shiite-led government wants him silenced, Sunni says
• Lawmaker says guards, neighbor family killed
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. military said it raided an al Qaeda safehouse in Iraq on Monday, killing six terrorists and capturing a seventh.

A Sunni lawmaker disputed the account, however, saying the raid was on his Baghdad office and that those killed included two of his guards and a family of four that lived next door.

Salih al-Mutlaq said the raid was based on false information from his enemies in an effort to "settle scores with me" because of his criticism of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government.

"The government and militias attached to it provided the U.S. military with misleading information to settle scores with me because I do not agree with their sectarian policies and the way the country is being run," he said.

According to the U.S. military, as coalition forces moved in on a building intelligence indicated was being used as a possible safe house for al Qaeda in Iraq, they came under heavy fire from the rooftops of several nearby buildings and returned fire, killing two terrorists.

One of those buildings was later identified as belonging to al-Mutlaq, chairman of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council, the military said.

Several other armed men fled to the top of third building and fired on the coalition forces, who returned fire, the military said.

The coalition forces established a foothold in one of the adjacent buildings, and engaged the gunmen, killing four more terrorists and detaining one, according to the military.

"Due to the heavy amount of enemy fire received two buildings caught on fire," the military said in a written statement.

When contacted by CNN, al-Mutlaq -- who is in Amman, Jordan -- said he was alerted at 2:30 a.m. local time that his western Baghdad office was being attacked by Shiite militiamen.

About 30 minutes later, one of his guards called him and said Iraqi and U.S. forces had surrounded the office and nearby homes and that they "were shelling the area and bombing it by air," al-Mutlaq said.

The Sunni lawmaker immediately called the U.S. Embassy, and left a message "saying there must have been a misunderstanding and pleading with them to stop the bombing," he said.

"Up to this moment, I have not heard back from either the U.S. Embassy or the U.S. military," he said.

Al-Mutlaq said his guards may have fired at the U.S. and Iraqi troops, but only in self-defense.

"They may have fired first when they thought they were being attacked by militias," he said.

He denied that his office or any of the surrounding homes had any allegiance to al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Al Qaeda killed my brother," he said. "We are the only political bloc that does not have a militia. We seek peace."

Al-Mutlaq's brother was found dead in April 2006 after being kidnapped.

The Sunni lawmaker has been a vocal critic of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government. In an interview that aired Friday on Arab language TV network Al-Arabiya, al-Mutlaq voiced his belief that the government was rushing to execute Saddam Hussein on the eve of the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Following the raid, al-Mutlaq expressed doubts as to whether he would return to Iraq.

"I do not know if I can come back. I do not know if it's safe for me," he said. "If you cannot secure your office what's the meaning of being in the political process?"

Other developments

  • Iraqi security forces Monday shut down Al-Sharqiya's Baghdad bureau after the interior minister accused the Iraqi TV station of "spreading lies and fomenting sectarian violence and hate" in its news coverage, including the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf said. Al-Sharqiya -- which is owned by a London-based Iraqi media tycoon, who is a Sunni Arab -- is still on the air despite the interior minister's order to close its Baghdad office. The network has a large broadcast center in Dubai.
  • The U.S. military on Sunday announced its 3,000th fatality from the Iraq war. On Monday, it said two more soldiers were killed in Diyala province on Sunday, for a total of 3,002 dead. The U.S. military death toll includes seven civilians working for the Department of Defense. (Full story)
  • CNN's Sam Dagher and Aneesh Raman contributed to this report


    • Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
    • Interactive: Sectarian divide


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