WASHINGTON -- Army investigators have concluded that American soldiers killed a substantial number of South Korean civilian refugees near the hamlet of No Gun Ri in the early days of the Korean War, but they did not find definitive evidence that they fired under orders from superiors, a senior defense official said today.
killings but not
that U.S. soldiers killed
civilians at No Gun Ri
"It's clear: We've found that American soldiers killed some number of South Korean civilians at No Gun Ri," said the official, who is familiar with the Army's findings but would discuss them only on condition of anonymity.
It marks the Army's first acknowledgment of U.S. soldiers' involvement in the killings. Before starting its investigation in September 1999, the Army had denied any involvement in the bloodletting.
Army officials did not immediately return calls asking for comment today.
The Army's chief investigator, Lt. Gen. Michael Ackerman, was in Seoul with other Pentagon officials to discuss the findings with South Korean officials and to seek agreement on the main points of fact about the incident.
The Army's findings, which are not yet final, were first reported in today's editions of The Washington Post, which said military investigators could not determine how many civilians perished in the incident at a railroad bridge in late July 1950.
The senior defense official said today that every member of the Army's 7th Cavalry Regiment who was in the vicinity of No Gun Ri at the time of the incident and who was willing to be interviewed by Army investigators was questioned about whether orders had been issued to shoot the civilians.
Although some said there were such orders, others said they could not recall it, the official said. On that basis, the Army intends to present the varying testimonies in its final report, without a definitive conclusion.
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