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Preliminary probe found evidence Haditha killings unprovoked: US officials

[JURIST] A preliminary investigation [AFPS report] by the US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] in February and March uncovered evidence that the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians [JURIST report] by US Marines in Haditha in November were without warning or provocation, US officials said Wednesday. The evidence from the probe did not square with the accounts of the Marines involved, who originally claimed that the civilians were killed by a roadside bomb detonated by a terrorist. Forensics showed that gunfire caused the civilians’ deaths.

Allegations that Marines killed the civilians were first publicly reported [text] by TIME magazine, prompting the military to launch a follow-up investigation [JURIST report]. US Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace [official profile], chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff [official website], has confirmed that the military is currently conducting two official investigations [JURIST report] -- one concerning the Iraqis' deaths and another to determine if there was a cover-up. Pace also promised that the results of the probes, which are expected in June, would be made public. Reuters has more.

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