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A series of civilian deaths in Haditha is now the subject of two U.S. military investigations — one into what happened, the other into a possible cover-up.
By Richard Engel Chief foreign correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/30/2006 7:42:28 PM ET 2006-05-30T23:42:28

On Tuesday, for the first time, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki spoke about the Haditha case. He said that Iraqi and multinational forces must respect human rights and the rights of Iraqi citizens, and a family cannot be killed because someone is fighting terrorists.

“We have to be more careful,” he said.

Haditha is now the subject of two U.S. military investigations — one into what happened, the other into a possible cover-up.

Witnesses, doctors and an Iraqi human rights group tell NBC News a consistent story, but one we have not been able to verify independently.

A crater is all that's left of a roadside bomb attack on Nov. 19, 2005, but controversy remains over the chain of events it triggered.

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7:15 a.m.: A convoy from the 1st Marine Division is hit by a roadside bomb — a Humvee is destroyed, and 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas is killed.

7:25 a.m.: Witnesses say Marines search the area for the bomber. They storm a house directly across from the attack, shooting as they approach.

A video shot by a local journalism student purports to show the bloody aftermath of what happened. Inside are 76-year-old Abdul Hamid — blind and in a wheelchair — his 66-year-old wife and nine of their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.

Local coroners’ reports obtained by NBC News say Abdul Hamid was shot in the stomach and head. The reports say his wife and five other relatives were also killed by multiple gunshot wounds.

Four inside the house survived, including 10-year-old Iman.

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“The Americans came into the room where my father was praying and shot him. They went to my grandmother and killed her, too,” Iman says.

During the raid, Abdul Hamid's house caught fire. Witnesses say Marines then moved next door to the house of Younis Hamid. Nine people were inside, and eight were killed — five of them children.

Twelve-year-old Safa says she survived by hiding under the bed.

“They came in and shot all of us,” she says. “I pretended I was dead.”

Witnesses say Marines then moves to a third location — a taxi parked by the side of the road. In it, residents say, were four university students and a driver. A witness watching from a nearby rooftop says Marines took the five men out of the car and executed them.

One witness says the driver screamed in English, “Please, please!” but they shot him in the body.

Other witnesses say two hours passed as more Marines and helicopters arrived to lock down the neighborhood.

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Around 10:30 a.m., Marines stormed the house of Eid Ahmed, where they allegedly separate his four sons from the women and children — before killing the men.

Nine-year-old Khalid was in the house.

“This is my father!” he screams. "God will take my revenge!"

In El Paso, Texas, the Terrazas family has made a memorial to Miguel Terrazas, but they told NBC News their grandson cannot rest in peace with so many unanswered questions remaining about the hours after his death.

NBC News asked the U.S. military to comment on this report. So far, the U.S. military here in Iraq only said that it takes the allegations seriously but cannot comment on ongoing investigations.

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Video: Haditha timeline


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