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Saturday, 16 September, 2000, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
US servicemen 'beat Kosovo civilians'
US soldiers in Kosovo
US peacekeepers were ill-prepared for duties, say officials
Nine US servicemen have been disciplined for mistreating civilians in Kosovo, according to reports on the American television network ABC.

The men are said to have indecently assaulted women, punched and threatened civilians, and fired at a Red Cross vehicle.

The nine servicemen, from the 82nd Airborne Division, have been reduced in rank and suffered financial penalties, according to ABC, which says it has obtained an official report on the incidents.

Grandmother of Merita Shabiu
A US soldier raped and murdered 11-year-old Merita Shabiu
A US army sergeant from the same division has already been jailed for life for raping and murdering 11-year-old Merita Shabiu in Kosovo.

The incidents involving the nine men are said to include one case where two Kosovo Albanian brothers were taken to an abandoned warehouse and punched in the stomach.

One then had a gun held to his head and was asked whether he wanted to die.

Classified information

All the incidents allegedly involving the nine men are believed to have taken place in the eastern town of Vitina in January.

ABC says the Pentagon is preparing to publish the report on Monday after removing classified information.

The men were serving with the international peacekeeping force sent to Kosovo after the withdrawal of Serbian forces.

According to the ABC report, the nine servicemen include four officers. They are said to based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

'Dehumanising'

There has been no comment from the Pentagon.

However, officials in Washington have told the Associated Press news agency that the report raises questions over the level of training which the men had received for a peacekeeping mission.

The sergeant who was jailed for rape and murder used part of the classified report during his trial to try to demonstrate that US peacekeepers were operating in a "dehumanising" atmosphere.

Sergeant Frank Ronghi was given a life sentence for the attack, with no possibility of parole.

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01 Aug 00 | Americas
US soldier jailed for Kosovo killing
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