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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Killing civilians as policy

From the Independent:
More than half a century after hostilities ended in Korea, a document from the war's chaotic early days has come to light - a letter from the US ambassador to Seoul, informing the State Department that American soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines.

The letter, dated the day of the army's mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950, is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all US forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the US government.

"If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot," wrote the ambassador, John J Muccio, in his message to the Assistant Secretary of State, Dean Rusk.
Estimates vary on the number of dead at No Gun Ri. American soldiers' estimates ranged from under 100 to "hundreds" dead; Korean survivors say about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles (160km) south-east of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, survivors say.
The Pentagon concluded that the No Gun Ri shootings, which lasted three days, were "an unfortunate tragedy", not a deliberate killing. It suggested that panicky soldiers, acting without orders, opened fire because they feared that an approaching line of families, baggage and farm animals was concealing enemy troops.
"With this additional piece of evidence, the Pentagon report's interpretation [of No Gun Ri] becomes difficult to sustain," Mr Conway-Lanz argues in his book, Collateral Damage, published by Routledge.
That was one way to save those 400 Koreans from "godless communism," I guess.