16 November 2004

"Cue Lt Calley... "

Well, I guess that's one way to win their hearts and minds...?
Shooting unarmed, wounded prisoners...in a MOSQUE! Does it get much worse than this? It will be very interesting to see how long the practice of embedding reporters continues after this incident


US Investigates Falluja Killing

The US military has announced it is looking into whether an American marine in Falluja shot dead a severely wounded Iraqi insurgent at point-blank range.

Television footage shows US soldiers entering a building as injured prisoners lie on the floor.

The soldier, who has not been identified, has been removed from the field and faces possible charges.

Lt Gen John Sattler promised to pursue the facts of the case "thoroughly" before taking further measures.

The BBC's James Robbins says the incident could prove highly damaging and that the US military will need to answer key questions about whether the rules of engagement were broken during the incident.

It must explain, he says, whether wounded combatants were abandoned, or killed, illegally.

But the BBC's Baghdad correspondent Caroline Hawley says most Iraqis will not be surprised, after the scandal of US abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility in Baghdad.

US-led forces said they have now gained overall control in Falluja, trapping rebels in the south of the city.

Mosque Stormed

The images of the alleged point-blank shooting of an Iraqi insurgent were taken by an NBC reporter embedded with the US troops in the Sunni city under assault.

They show a group of marines from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, armed with rifles, entering a building near a mosque last Saturday, 13 November.

The mosque had been used by insurgents to attack US forces, who had stormed it, killing 10 militants and wounding five.

At least three severely wounded men are seen in a room inside the building - two are slumped against one of the walls, partially covered with a blanket.

The NBC's Kevin Sites says the wounded men had been left in the mosque after marines had fought their way in on Friday and Saturday.

According to Mr Sites, one of the soldiers points his rifle at the head of one of the injured, an old man. The sound of a shot is then heard.

The day before the incident the marine had been shot in the cheek and returned to duty and another marine in the same unit had been killed by explosives planted in the body of a dead insurgent.

Gen Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the purpose of the investigation was to determine "whether the marine acted in self defence, violated military law or failed to comply with the law of armed conflict".

"We follow the law of armed conflict and we hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability," Gen Sattler said.

'Fighting to Death'

US marines have been battling with sporadic but fierce pockets of resistance inside the city. They say they have already killed 1,200 insurgents in the week-long assault.

The offensive is now concentrated mainly in southern districts, where small groups of rebels are "fighting to the death", US commanders say.

Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian disaster in Falluja, which has been without water or electricity for a week.

There are no figures on civilian deaths. It was estimated that up to 50,000 out of the usual population of 300,000 had remained in Falluja, but this number is impossible to verify.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/11/16 07:37:59 GMT



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