updated 11/7/2005 2:54:59 PM ET 2005-11-07T19:54:59

Five U.S. members of an elite Army unit have been charged with kicking and punching detainees in Iraq, the military said Monday.

The charges were issued Saturday against five soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment in connection with a Sept. 7 incident “in which three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked while awaiting movement to a detention facility,” the U.S. military said in a statement.

The military said officials had immediately launched an investigation after discovering the abuse allegations, leading to the charges. Names and ranks of the five soldiers were not released and the statement gave no further details.

Allegations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad gained international notoriety in 2004 after a number of U.S. military personnel were charged with humiliating and assaulting detainees at the facility. Nine Army reservists were convicted in the scandal.

The announcement came as President Bush vigorously defended U.S. interrogation practices in the war on terror and lobbied against a congressional drive to outlaw torture during a visit to Panama.

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