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Iraq says two U.S. helicopters downed

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq says it has shot down two U.S. helicopters, killing at least two crew, and from now on it will bury all enemy dead on the battlefield.

The Pentagon said it had no reports of missing aircraft.

"Iraqi tribesmen and other fighters downed an Apache helicopter and killed two pilots," Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told a news conference on Sunday, detailing fighting near the southern city of Basra in the past 24 hours.

Sahaf also said that Iraqi forces downed another helicopter in Khazaf, central Iraq. The fate of the crew was unclear but Iraqi forces found identification tags used by U.S. personnel in the debris.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said: "There are no reports of any downed aircraft."

In the southern town of Zubayr, Sahaf said Iraqi fighters had downed an unmanned spy plane, destroyed four tanks and "captured or killed" some enemy forces.

He said the two Apache crew were buried where they were found.

"We have issued orders, from now on...we will bury them according to their religious traditions and the Ministry of Islamic Affairs will take care of burying these mercenaries," he said.

He also said that seven Iraqis, three of them children, were killed during fighting on the road between Najaf and Kerbala, 110 km (80 miles) southwewst of Baghdad.

Two Kuwaitis had been captured in the past day, he added.

The minister reiterated charges that British forces had destroyed about 75,000 tonnes of food stores in Iraq's southern city of Basra and accused the invading U.S.-led forces of hypocrisy by now seeking to distribute aid to Iraqis.

"They destroyed huge quantities of food that belong to the civilians of Iraq and now they say they are here to provide humanitarian aid," he said.

He accused "British mercenaries" of killing people and then returning the next day to offer condolences to survivors.

Sahaf also said that U.S. and British forces prevented food shipments from reaching the southern port of Umm Qasr, adding that four vessels with sugar, cooking oil, tea, soap and powdered milk had been turned away from the port.

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