By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer
June 30, 2006 posted on Yahoo! News
Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.
The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of raping.
Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. It did not elaborate.
"The entire investigation will encompass everything that could have happened that evening. We're not releasing any specifics of an ongoing investigation," said military spokesman Maj. Todd Breasseale.
"There is no indication what led soldiers to this home. The investigation just cracked open. We're just beginning to dig into the details."
However, a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and has been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.
At least four other soldiers have had their weapons taken away and are confined to Forward Operating Base Mahmoudiyah south of Baghdad. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings but that a soldier felt compelled to report the killings after his fellow soldiers' bodies were found.
The killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiyah.