By: E&P Staff
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz, embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq, produced the latest news bulletin today concerning yetr another alleged U.S. atrocity in Iraq, and one of the worst yet.
Lenz reported this morning that five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her on March 12– and three members of her family in Iraq.
The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of raping.
Iraqi police had been told about the killings three months ago. The U.S. contended the killings were by insurgents, until two or three soldiers spoke up.
The New York Times followed on this report later in the afternoon: “The deaths were originally attributed by the military to ‘insurgent activity,’ American officials said. That implies that soldiers involved in the incident may have misreported it to their commanders, or that there may have been a cover-up in the chain of command, as is suspected in the case of the Haditha killings last November.
“The latest investigation began on June 24, one day after two soldiers ‘reported alleged coalition force involvement’ in the deaths of the Iraqi family, the military said in a written statement.”
The Times also related: “The investigation is the fourth into suspected killings of unarmed Iraqis by American soldiers announced by the military in June. In May, it was disclosed that the military was conducting an inquiry into the deaths of 24 civilians in Haditha last November. “
Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. It did not elaborate.
The AP’s Lenz, who broke the story, was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiyah.
“The entire investigation will encompass everything that could have happened that evening. We’re not releasing any specifics of an ongoing investigation,” said military spokesman Maj. Todd Breasseale.
“There is no indication what led soldiers to this home. The investigation just cracked open. We’re just beginning to dig into the details.”
“However, a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and has been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.
“At least four other soldiers have had their weapons taken away and are confined to Forward Operating Base Mahmoudiyah south of Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
“The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings but that a soldier felt compelled to report the killings after his fellow soldiers’ bodies were found.
“The killings appeared to have been a ‘crime of opportunity,’ the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.”