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BAGHDAD A U.S. warplane destroyed a house in the southern city of Basra, killing a militant, the military said Thursday. Iraqi witnesses and hospital officials said at least three civilians were among the dead.
The American military said it was looking into reports that civilians were killed in a second airstrike in Basra but it could provide no further details.
The strikes in Basra underscored the high tensions as the Iraqi government continues a crackdown against Shiite militias four days after radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his Mahdi army fighters to stand down.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile, said he plans to launch more security crackdowns like the one in Basra against "criminal gangs" in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.
Witnesses said three people were killed and three others believed to be buried in the rubble, apparently leading to confusion over the number of casualties.
"While we were preparing for evening prayer, U.S. aircraft bombed this house, we rushed to save survivals but in vain," a neighbor identified only as Haj Juwad told Associated Press Television News. "The father, mother and a young boy were killed and three others were buried under rubble. We evacuated two people and one is still under the rubble."