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Army sending team to Seoul to begin probe of alleged massacre

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Army is sending an investigative team to South Korea to begin the field inquiry into allegations of a Korean
War massacre of civilians by U.S. soldiers.

The investigators, headed by the Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Michael Ackerman, plan one day of talks with their South
Korean counterparts on Friday, defense officials said. They will leave for Seoul on Wednesday.

Kenneth Bacon, spokesman for Defense Secretary William Cohen, said the meeting will mark the start of the information sharing
that Cohen promised President Kim Dae-jung in an Oct. 8 letter. Cohen told Kim the U.S. investigation would seek to uncover the
truth "no matter where it leads."

On Sept. 30, The Associated Press reported accounts by American veterans and South Korean villagers that U.S. soldiers killed up to
400 civilians under a bridge at No Gun Ri, South Korea, early in the war. A subsequent AP report said that in addition to the No Gun
Ri incident in late July 1950, the Army a short time later destroyed two strategic bridges as South Korean refugees streamed
across, killing hundreds of civilians.

The Pentagon has said it will take a broad look into the matter, although it has not spelled out the scope, timing and guidelines of
its investigation.

Prior to publication of the AP stories, U.S. officials said previous examinations of military records found no evidence of a massacre. The earlier inquiries were the basis for U.S. and South Korean rejections of requests from victims' families and survivors seeking acknowledgment of the killings and compensation.

The South Korean government already has conducted some interviews with survivors.

The Pentagon has begun reviewing historical records, but Friday's talks in Seoul will mark the first step in the field investigation. Last week Cohen announced the creation of a special group of Defense Department officials, plus some nonmilitary advisers, to guide the Army's investigation.

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