Wednesday, May 31, 2006

US to publish Iraq deaths probe


The US government has promised to make public all the details of inquiries into the alleged massacre of Iraqi civilians by US marines last November.
Washington made the pledge following claims that the killings of 24 people in the town of Haditha were covered up.

A White House spokesman said President George W Bush was concerned by the reports, but wanted the military to complete their inquiries first.

The Iraqi prime minister said earlier Baghdad would investigate the claims.

Nouri Maliki told Reuters news agency there was "a limit to the acceptable excuses" for civilian casualties.

The Pentagon is close to ending its two separate inquiries into the killings and the cover-up in Haditha, initially attributed to a clash with militants.

According to initial US military reports, 15 civilians and eight insurgents died after a bomb killed a marine in Haditha, a militant stronghold in Anbar Province.

But the army now says it is investigating a total of 24 deaths.

Observers say the incident on 19 November could deal a more serious blow to US standing than the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

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