Seoul, South Korea — South Korean investigators, for the first time, have determined that U.S. troops killed a large number of refugees at the hamlet of No Gun Ri during the early days of the Korean War.
A one-page government report on the No Gun Ri probe, submitted by South Korea's Defense Ministry to the National Assembly on June 22, said a list of at least 175 victims has been compiled based on information provided by relatives.
Investigators, the report said, "have confirmed the existence of the incident and the general outline of events that led to the incident."
The summary said investigators would now try to determine the exact motives of GIs in opening fire on the refugees, what chain of command gave open-fire orders and "where the responsibility lies."
"This is a tragic calamity that took place during the early days of ... the Korean War," the ministry report said. The document, part of a larger report on domestic issues, was distributed only to lawmakers in June and later made public.
Both the Pentagon and South Korea opened inquiries last year after The Associated Press quoted U.S. veterans and South Korean survivors as saying American GIs killed civilians sheltering under the railroad viaduct at No Gun Ri on July 26-28, 1950. Ex-GIs spoke of 100, 200 or simply hundreds dead. The South Koreans say up to 300 were killed.
The Defense Ministry report said South Korean investigators have reviewed and analyzed 690 crucial documents, traced the U.S. military maneuvers at the time, and completed interviewing 140 survivors, relatives and villagers. The Pentagon, which is expected to issue a report this fall, was interviewing 120 veterans, the report said.