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Monday, 10 January, 2000, 03:38 GMT
Korean War atrocity probe begins

US generals thought refugee columns could hide communist agents


By Andrew Wood in Seoul

The most senior US politician to investigate allegations of a massacre of civilians by American troops in the Korean War 50 years ago is starting a four-day fact-finding visit to South Korea.

The US Secretary for the Army, Louis Caldera, will visit the site of the incident at No Gun Ri and listen to the stories of refugees who say they were attacked.

The United States led the United Nations coalition that defended South Korea after a Communist invasion from the northern half of the divided peninsula in 1950.

In the past few months some American veterans say they were ordered in the early, messy few days of the war to attacks groups of South Korean refugees because North Korean guerrillas were suspected to be hiding among them.


The bridge in the modern era
The most prominent incident was at No Gun Ri, where refugees say they were herded under a railway bridge by American soldiers and machined gunned.

US veterans have appeared on television to say they did it.

Mr Caldera, the US Secretary for the Army, will go to No Gun Ri on Monday. With him with be a group of twenty US experts on Korea, dubbed the "wise men".

He will meet survivors. Some of them want compensation.

Courts in South Korea have so far rejected their claims on the grounds that the actions were filed too late.

The survivors say previous military-led governments suppressed their action because they did not want to embarrass the Americans, who remain South Korea's main ally.

Some 37,000 US troops are still stationed here to deter further attacks by North Korea.

Mr Caldera will also meet the South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. He will leave on Wednesday.

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See also:
30 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Seoul to investigate 'atrocity'
29 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
US veterans confess Korean War atrocity

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