BAGHDAD A U.S. airstrike killed five Iraqi civilians including a judge in the northern town of Tikrit on Wednesday, Iraqi police said.
U.S. forces acknowledged that civilians had been struck during a battle with suspected al Qaeda Sunni Arab militants which included strikes from fixed-wing aircraft.
"After the airstrike, coalition forces continued to receive heavy enemy fire as armed terrorists ran from the target and attempted to hide in neighbouring homes using the occupants as human shields," they said in a statement.
"Preliminary assessment indicates that despite coalition forces' efforts to protect them, several civilians were injured or killed during the ensuing gunbattle," it said.
Iraqi police said five civilians were killed and 10 wounded in the air strike. The dead included Munaf Mehdi, a judge in the town.