WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – The U.S. military is investigating whether U.S. soldiers raped an Iraqi woman and then killed her and three members of her family, including a child, south of Baghdad in March, officials said on Friday.
It is the latest in a series of military investigations in which U.S. troops are suspected of killing civilians in Iraq.
Army Maj. Gen. James Thurman, the top U.S. commander in the Baghdad area, asked the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command to look into the deaths in Mahmudiyah, south of the capital, the military said.
The investigation began last Saturday, one day after two U.S. soldiers reported suspicions about the involvement of other soldiers, the military said in a statement released in Baghdad.
A U.S. Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, said at least three U.S. soldiers from the 502nd Infantry Regiment were under investigation.
Last week, 12 U.S. troops were charged with murder in the deaths of Iraqi civilians in two separate incidents. In addition, another criminal investigation is continuing into the suspected role of U.S. Marines in killing 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in the western town of Haditha last November.
In the latest case, the Army official said one of the soldiers who came forward with information about the crime said two soldiers were involved in the rape of the woman and then one of them killed her, a child and two adults, in their home.
The soldier suspected of killing the four family members was discharged from the military and is back in the United States, the official said. The official did not provide the reason for the discharge.
The soldiers were reported to have returned from the scene with blood stains on their clothes, the official said.
No one has yet been charged, the official said.
The other soldier who provided information about the crime said he had heard that three soldiers may have been involved, the official said.
The official did not know how the four Iraqis were killed.