BAGHDAD: A group of Iraqi workers in Baghdad yesterday came under fire from US troops who mistook them for insurgents, injuring 26.
An interior ministry source said US troops fired on a crowd of workers in the central Baghdad neighbourhood of Alawi, while a defence ministry source reported an exchange of fire between suspected rebels and US forces in the area.
But a number of casualties lying in Al Yarmouk hospital said that a US helicopter fired at them as they were gathered outside a hotel.
"The electricity went out, so we exited the hotel to the street to have breakfast in the fresh air. A helicopter then opened fire on to the street," said Ali Mohammad, who suffered neck and leg injuries.
Makki Hassan, a 50-year-old resident, said a number of people sleeping on the roofs of their houses were also struck.
The US military had no immediate information on the incident.
Also in Baghdad, two Iraqi policemen were killed and four others injured when gunmen fired on a civil defence centre in the eastern Canal district.
In other violence, an Iraqi working for a local news organisation was killed and his three colleagues wounded when their car hit a bomb south of Baquba.
The US military said that a 20-year-old male security prisoner was suspected to have been killed in Abu Ghraib jail "on August 15 of a suspected homicide". The detainee, whose nationality was not disclosed, was found unconscious by fellow detainees and pronounced dead in hospital.
The US military further said three of its soldiers from Task Force Baghdad died when their vehicle overturned in a sinkhole during combat operations in south Baghdad.
US officials, meanwhile, scrambled to keep Iraq's political process on track despite a deadlock over a new constitution. Washington sought to play down the failure of Shi'ite, Kurdish and Sunni charter negotiators to reach an agreement by Monday's deadline and applauded their request for a seven-day extension.
Kurdish leaders insisted they had no plans to secede even if they wanted the charter to give them the right to do so - one of the issues that forced the delay.