Maliki admits mistake over arrest

WASHINGTON: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said Saturday an Iraqi officer who ordered the detention of US soldiers last week after they killed three Iraqis had acted "out of line."

The prime minister told The Washington Post in an interview the officer "did not understand the agreement" governing US military activities since US troops withdrew from Iraqi cities last month.

He added that the accord "clearly states that American forces have the right to defend themselves, and that's what they did."

Four Iraqis, including two children, also were wounded in the incident when US forces returned fire and raided nearby houses after insurgents attacked their convoy.

Maliki, who wrapped up his visit to the United States, also told The Post he had telephoned Baghdad and "made clear that they understand that this demand of handing over the people who killed the Iraqis was wrong."

The incident occurred Tuesday in the Baghdad suburb of Abu Ghraib.

The agreement governing the behavior of US forces went into effect on January 1. It turns over all security responsibility to the Iraqi forces and provides for a phased US withdrawal, including the complete departure of American forces by the end of 2011.