Salvadoran rebels admitted Wednesday that their forces may have executed two U.S. servicemen aboard a helicopter they shot down, and they pledged to punish anyone found to be responsible.
The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front said in a communique that two of its fighters had been arrested on suspicion of “having assassinated wounded prisoners of war.”
The helicopter was on a flight from San Salvador to Honduras and was flying low to avoid surface-to-air missiles when it was shot down with small arms near the village of Lolotique.
A U.S. military investigation showed that Army Chief Warrant Officer Daniel S. Scott, 39, apparently was killed outright in the crash. Further autopsy reports showed, however, that Pfc. Earnest G. Dawson Jr., 20, and Lt. Col. David H. Pickett, 40, survived the crash but were later shot and killed at close range.
The FMLN first denied the killings, then said it would investigate. The rebels said Wednesday that a preliminary investigation showed that there are “sufficient elements to presume that part of the crew, as wounded prisoners, could have been assassinated by one or several members of our military units.”