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Iraq Transition

Iraq: Bullet-riddled bodies found

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Nine bullet riddled bodies showing signs of torture were found in various Baghdad neighborhoods Saturday morning, Baghdad police said.

Police were unable to immediately confirm the body's identifies.

In northern Baghdad, a gunman killed an Iraq police officer while he was driving through a Sunni neighborhood around noon, Baghdad police said.

In central Baquba, nine people were wounded after a roadside bomb exploded near a market and bus station at 8 a.m. local time, Baquba police said.

Baquba is about 37 miles (60 km) north of Baghdad.

The military said a U.S. soldier died "due to non-hostile action" Saturday while operating in Iraq's Anbar province.

The soldier was assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. The soldier's name was withheld pending notification of relatives, the military said.

The death brings the number of U.S. soldiers who have died since the Iraq war began to 2,586. The figure includes seven civilian contractors to the military.

Meanwhile U.S. soldiers charged in connection with the rape and slaying of an Iraqi female and the killings of her family will begin an Article 32 hearing Sunday at Camp Victory near Baghdad, the U.S. military said.

An Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a probable cause or preliminary hearing.

The charges relate to an incident that took place in March in Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad

Announcement of the hearing against the four U.S. soldiers came after thousands of people marched through the streets of Baghdad on Friday, enthusiastically voicing support for Lebanon's Hezbollah militia.

Sgt. Paul E. Cortez, Spec. James P. Barker, Pfc. Jesse V. Spielman, and Pfc. Bryan L. Howard were all charged with conspiring with former Pfc. Steven D. Green to commit the crimes, the military said.

The four could face the death penalty, the military has said.

A fifth soldier, Sgt. Anthony W. Yribe, was charged with failing to report the rape and killings but is not alleged to have been a direct participant. He is not facing an Article 32 hearing at this time.

Green, who was discharged from the Army in May due an "anti-social personality disorder," faces rape and murder charges in federal court. He is being held in a Kentucky jail, where last month he was granted a three-month delay in his arraignment. He has pleaded not guilty.

All six are from the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The incident took place in March in Mahmoudiya, just south of Baghdad. A Justice Department affidavit filed in Green's case says Green and other soldiers planned the rape.

The affidavit says Green shot and killed the woman's relatives, including a girl of about 5 years of age; raped the woman; then fatally shot her. It says the incident took place "on or about March 12, 2006."

Soldiers are quoted in the affidavit as telling investigators that Green and his companions then set the family's house afire, threw the AK-47 rifle used in the killings into a nearby canal and burned their bloodstained clothing.

There is some confusion over the alleged rape victim's age. Identity cards and death certificates of the victims, which were obtained by Reuters news agency, show that the alleged rape victim was Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, with the birth date August 19, 1991. The mayor of Mahmoudiya confirmed her identity and birth date to CNN.

The U.S. military had previously referred to the alleged rape victim as a "young Iraqi woman." A Justice Department affidavit in the case against Green says investigators estimated her age at about 25, while the U.S. military said she was 20.

Other developments:

  • On Friday, thousands of people marched through the streets of Baghdad, enthusiastically voicing support for Lebanon's Hezbollah militia. Protesters chanted slogans, burned Israeli flags and waved Lebanese and Hezbollah flags in the Iraqi capital's densely populated Shiite enclave of Sadr City. Demonstrators also held up placards with the portrait of Hassan Nasrallah, head of Hezbollah.
  • Insurgents and police slugged it out Friday across the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, leaving three police officers and an unknown number of insurgents dead. The clashes led officials to enforce a citywide curfew until dawn on Saturday. The violence erupted as 3,500 U.S. troops were being moved from the Mosul area to Baghdad to help bolster security in the capital.
  • Two U.S. soldiers were killed Friday as a result of "enemy action" in Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said.
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report

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