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Monday, November 15, 2004

Video Shows US Troops Shooting Unarmed Prisoner in the Head

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military has begun an investigation into possible war crimes after a television pool report by NBC showed a Marine shooting dead a wounded and unarmed Iraqi in a Falluja mosque, officials said on Monday.

The Iraqi was one of five wounded left in the mosque after Marines fought their way in on Friday and Saturday. The U.S. military has accused insurgents in Iraq of using mosques to launch attacks against American forces.

U.S. forces, along with Iraqi government troops, launched an offensive one week ago on Falluja, and have gained overall control of the formerly rebel-held city, although scattered resistance remains.

Maj. Douglas Powell, a Marine Corps spokesman at the Pentagon, said the investigation, being conducted by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, focused on "possible law of war violations" by U.S. Marines.

The pool report by NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said the mosque had been used by insurgents to attack U.S. forces, who stormed it and an adjacent building, killing 10 militants and wounding the five.

Sites said the wounded had been left in the mosque for others to pick up and move to the rear for treatment. No reason was given why that had not happened.

A second group of Marines entered the mosque on Saturday after reports it had been reoccupied. Footage from the embedded television crew showed the five still in the mosque, although several appeared to be already close to death, Sites said.

He said one Marine noticed one of the prisoners was still breathing.

A Marine can be heard saying on the pool footage provided to Reuters Television: "He's f***ing faking he's dead. He faking he's f***ing dead."

"The Marine then raises his rifle and fires into the man's head. The pictures are too graphic for us to broadcast," Sites said. No images of the shooting were shown in the footage provided to Reuters.

The report said the Marine had returned to duty after being shot in the face a day earlier.

Sites said the shot prisoner "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way."

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