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Italy probes allegations against U.S. troops

Corriere della Sera, Italy’s leading broadsheet, reported on Sunday that Italian military officials are investigating the alleged killing of up to 200 Sicilians by U.S. troops during World War II.
/ Source: Reuters

Italy is investigating the alleged killing of up to 200 Sicilians by U.S. troops during World War II, Italy’s leading broadsheet reported on Sunday.

Military magistrates are looking at nine incidents where Italians, some soldiers who had surrendered and some civilians, were said to have died at the hands of U.S. soldiers in the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, Corriere della Sera said.

The investigating magistrates were not immediately available for comment on the newspaper report.

Interpol had received the names of seven U.S. soldiers believed to have been involved in the killings which magistrates pieced together from the accounts of survivors, it said.

“The Americans surprised us while we were loading our cannon on to a truck. It was 3 a.m. on July 13, 1943,” recalled one survivor, Bruno Vagnetti, now 82.

“One shouted in Sicilian dialect: ‘Raise your hands. Step forward.’ We obeyed. They made us walk 700 meters (yards) and then they started firing on us with the machine guns. I was shot in the stomach but survived,” he said.

Allied forces invaded Sicily in July 1943, in the largest amphibious landing of World War Two, outnumbering even the D-Day invasion. More than 250,000 U.S. and British troops swarmed on to the island sending Nazi soldiers fleeing to the mainland.

In a reflection of its complicated war history, the investigation into the alleged killing by U.S. soldiers is not the only Italian World War II mass killing under scrutiny.

A trial of former Nazi soldiers, now living in Germany, is under way in the northwestern port city of La Spezia.

The seven men, now in their 80s, are accused of killing 560 men, women and children in a Tuscan village 60 years ago.