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Marines probed in fatal shootings

BAGHDAD -- After a US Marine died in a roadside bombing in western Iraq, American troops went into nearby houses and killed 15 members of two families, including a 3-year-old-girl, residents said yesterday.

The military says about 12 Marines are being investigated for possible war crimes by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after the Nov. 19 insurgent attack in Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad.

The allegations against the Marines were first brought forward by Time magazine, which reported this week that it obtained a videotape two months ago taken by a Haditha journalism student.

A military spokeswoman said yesterday the allegations were being taken very seriously.

Khaled Ahmed Rsayef, whose brother and six relatives were killed, said the roadside bomb exploded around 7:15 a.m., heavily damaging a US Humvee.

''American troops immediately cordoned off the area and raided two nearby houses, shooting at everyone inside,'' said Rsayef, who didn't witness the events but whose 15-year-old niece says she did.

Rsayef and another resident, former city councilman Imad Jawad Hamza, who spoke with hospital officials and residents, said the first house to be stormed was that of Abdul-Hamid Hassan Ali.

Ali, 76, whose left leg was amputated years ago, died after being shot in the stomach and chest. His wife, Khamisa, 66, was shot in the back. Ali's son, Jahid, 43, was hit in the head and chest. A second son, Walid, 37, was burned to death after a grenade was thrown into his room, and a third son, 28-year-old Rashid, died after he was shot in the head and chest, Rsayef and Hamza said.

Also among the dead were Walid's wife, Asma, 32, who was shot in the head, and their son, Abdullah, 4, who was shot in the chest, Rsayef and Hamza said.

Walid's daughter, Iman, 8, and his son, Abdul-Rahman, 6, were wounded and US troops took them to Baghdad for treatment. The only person who escaped unharmed was Walid's 5-month-old daughter, Asia. The three children now live with their maternal grandparents, Rsayef and Hamza said.

Rsayef said those killed in the second house were his brother, Younis, 43, who was shot in the stomach and chest, the brother's wife, Aida, 40, who was shot in the neck and chest while still in bed where she was recuperating from bladder surgery. Their 8-year-old son, Mohammed, bled to death after being shot in the right arm, Rsayef said.

Also killed were Younis's daughters: Nour, 14, who was shot in the head; Seba, 10, who was hit in the chest; Zeinab, 5, shot in the chest and stomach; and Aisha, 3, who was shot in the chest. Hoda Yassin, a visiting relative, was also killed, Rsayef and Hamza said.

The only survivor from Younis's family was his 15-year-old daughter, Safa, who pretended she was dead. She is living with her grandparents, Rsayef said.

The troops then shot and killed four brothers who were walking in the street, Rsayef and Hamza said, identifying them as the sons of Ayed Ahmed -- Marwan, Qahtan, Jamal, and Chaseb.

US troops also shot dead five men who were in a car near the scene, Hamza and Rsayef said. They identified the five as Khaled Ayad al-Zawi and his brother, Wajdi, as well as Mohammed Battal Mahmoud, Akram Hamid Flayeh, and Ahmad Fanni Mosleh.

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