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Shooting Could Be a War Crime

From Times Wire Services

The U.S. military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after an NBC television crew videotaped a Marine fatally shooting a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Fallouja mosque, officials said Monday.

The footage was taken Saturday by correspondent Kevin Sites, as the Marines’ 3rd Battalion, 1st Regiment, returned to the unidentified mosque.

Sites reported that a different Marine unit had come under fire from the mosque Friday. Those Marines stormed the building, killing 10 men and wounding five, Sites said. The Marines treated the wounded, he reported, then left and continued Friday with their drive to retake the city.

The five men were still in the mosque Saturday, Sites reported.

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On the video, a Marine can be heard shouting obscenities, yelling that one of the five men was only pretending to be dead.

The video then showed a Marine raising his rifle toward a prisoner on the floor. The Marine fires, and the bullet strikes the man in the upper body. His blood splatters on the wall behind him and his body goes limp.

The video also showed two of the other wounded men propped against a wall; Sites said they were bleeding to death. He said a third wounded man appeared dead, while a fourth was severely wounded but breathing. The fifth was covered by a blanket. It was the fourth man who was shown being shot.

Maj. Douglas Powell, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the investigation focused on “possible law-of-war violations” by Marines. Powell said the Marine unit had been pulled off the front lines and was no longer involved in combat.


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