US forces apparently shot to death two Iraqi women, one of them pregnant, when they fired at a vehicle that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad, Iraqi officials and relatives said.
Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was about to give birth and her brother was racing her and two cousins to the maternity in Samarra, when the shooting occurred.
Jassim and her 57-year-old cousin Saliha Mohammed Hassan were killed by the US forces, according to Iraqi police and witnesses said.
The US military said coalition troops fired at a car after it entered a clearly marked prohibited area near an observation post but failed to stop despite repeated visual and auditory warnings.
"Shots were fired to disable the vehicle," the military said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. "Coalition forces later received reports from Iraqi police that two women had died from gunshot wounds ... and one of the females may have been pregnant."
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