A British Broadcasting Corp. documentary aired Friday reported that U.S. warships killed as many as 400 Korean refugees gathered on a beach during the early days of the Korean War.
The documentary also cited new American witnesses to the killing by U.S. troops of civilian refugees under a railroad bridge at No Gun Ri in July 1950.
The report, entitled "Kill 'Em All," cited "newly unearthed" military documents in which U.S. commanders, fearing North Korean infiltrators might be hiding among refugees, issued orders such as "Shoot all refugees" and "All refugees . . . are fair game."
The documentary featured South Korean survivors who described the killing by U.S. soldiers of 82 villagers cowering in a small shrine. It also said that as many as 400 civilians died when U.S. warships shelled a crowd of refugees on a beach.
The BBC said the killings on the beach occurred Sept. 1, 1950, but the network did not name the ships involved. The BBC said it arrived at the 400 figure from interviews with survivors.
"So many people were hit by the shrapnel," said survivor Choe Il Chool. "So many were screaming and crying. The whole beach was full of mutilated bodies. The warships were really close. The sound of the shells was so loud."
The Pentagon on Friday declined to comment on the BBC report.
In January 2001, the U.S. said American soldiers killed or injured an unconfirmed number of refugees at No Gun Ri but denied that U.S. commanders issued oral or written orders to shoot and kill Korean civilians at No Gun Ri.