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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Pentagon said Thursday that it knew of no immediate plans to change operations in the wake of the killing of Iraqi children who had crowded around soldiers handing out candy.

“It is an obviously tragic circumstance. Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said Thursday. “But as we’ve said, when somebody’s willing to kill themselves, it’s a very difficult thing to defend against.”

A suicide bomber detonated his SUV as U.S. troops were distributing candy and toys Wednesday in the mostly Shiite New Baghdad area.

The bombing killed 27 people — including 18 children and an American soldier — in eastern Baghdad.

“The Iraqis do tend to react to U.S. forces when they’re in their area,” Di Rita told Pentagon reporters.

“They appreciate the fact that U.S. forces are there. They tend to collect around U.S. forces, and when these kind of tragedies occur, we obviously lament them, and look for what ways we might adjust our procedures so that they might be avoided.”

Asked whether U.S. commanders in Iraq are planning any operational changes to prevent future crowds of children from gathering around troops, Di Rita said he didn’t know.

“But I think it’s an issue [the U.S. commanders in Iraq] are mindful of. They know that it does present an elevated risk, a target risk to Iraqi citizens as well U.S. forces,” Di Rita said.

“But the interaction with the Iraqi citizens by both Iraqi security forces and coalition forces is, on balance, a positive thing. It’s not the kind of thing you want to restrict too much, because its something the Iraqis appreciate themselves, from my observations.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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