There's now an investigation into the killing of 24 Iraqis on November 19, 2005 who appear to have been killed in retribution for a nearby bomb explosion. The incident is sounds familiar to all who remember Vietnam--the hostility of the populace, the suspicion and anger of the occupying Americans, the frequently random targetting of civilians. According to a story at Mercury News:
Investigators believe that their criminal investigation into the deaths of about two dozen Iraqi civilians points toward a conclusion that Marines committed unprovoked murders, a senior defense official said Friday.
According to ABC News, the following facts have been established thus far:
— Early in the morning of November 19, a roadside bomb hit a small convoy of 12 Marines killing Marine Lance Corporal Lance Terrazas. All of the marines belonged to Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Regiment.
— Shortly after the bomb went off, the Marines saw a car approaching and fired, killing five Iraqi men. Military officials say all of them turned out to be unarmed.
— Some of the Marines, including a sergeant, entered a cluster of nearby homes from where, they later claimed, they had taken enemy fire.
— In the first house, however, they allegedly found only unarmed civilians. Exactly what happened inside is unclear, but by the time they left, six of the civilians were killed, including a three year old boy.
— In a second house, the Marines allegedly found and killed 8 more unarmed civilians.
— A man was allegedly shot by a Marine as he fled one of the houses.
— In still another house, the Marines said they encountered four Iraqi men , including one armed with an AK-47, and another reaching for a weapon in a closet. The Marines allegedly shot and killed all four men. It's unclear to investigators if the AK-47's were found before or after the shooting. (As in the U.S., many Iraqis legally own guns.)