A US Marine squad that had just endured casualties from a roadside bombing ordered five unarmed Iraqi civilians out of a taxi, and the squad leader shot them one by one, witnesses have told naval investigators.
Four Marines have been charged in the deaths of 24 civilians, including women and children, that occurred immediately after a bombing in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005, killed one Marine and injured two others. In addition, four officers who were not there during the killings but were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths have been charged.
The killings have led to the biggest US criminal case involving civilian deaths to come out of the Iraq war.
According to one witness, quoted in the report by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service obtained by The Washington Post, a white taxi happened upon the scene shortly after the explosion. The Marines' squad leader, Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, ordered the passengers, five unarmed Iraqis, out of the car, witnesses said.