updated 6/25/2006 6:46:33 PM ET 2006-06-25T22:46:33

Two U.S. soldiers have been charged in the February killing of an unarmed Iraqi civilian near the city of Ramadi, the military said Sunday.

Spc. Nathan B. Lynn was charged with one count of voluntary manslaughter for allegedly shooting and killing the man on Feb. 15.

He and Sgt. Milton Ortiz Jr. also were charged with one count of obstructing justice for allegedly conspiring with another soldier to put an AK-47 near the body to make it look as though he was an insurgent.

The soldiers had been out in an operation near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi and some were in a house questioning someone when they heard shots outside where Lynn was providing security, the military said.

The Iraqi man was found shot in the front yard. But witnesses did not see the weapon by the body until later, leading to allegations that it had been planted there to make the man look like he was an attacker, the military said.

The soldier who allegedly placed the weapon near the man’s body “redeployed and demobilized” before criminal proceedings began, the military said.

Lynn and Ortiz — both of the 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania National Guard — are being held in Baghdad while awaiting Article 32 hearings to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to a court-martial.

Ortiz also was charged with one count of assault and one count of communicating a threat for a separate incident on March 8, when he allegedly put an unloaded weapon against the head of an Iraqi man and threatened to send him to prison, the military said in a statement.

U.S. and Iraqi forces began advancing last week into a volatile eastern section of Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, to strengthen their presence in neighborhoods that have been controlled by the Sunni-led insurgency.

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