The US military is under further pressure over events in Iraq with the news that three soldiers have been charged with the premeditated murder of three detainees. The men belong to the 101st Airborne Division. They are accused of allowing three suspected insurgents to escape in order to justify shooting them.
It comes as military commanders continue to investigate other alleged killings by US forces in Iraq. In another troubling development for the Pentagon, a group linked to al Qaeda has claimed on a website to have kidnapped two American soldiers. The pair has not been seen since an attack on a checkpoint south of Baghdad last Friday.
Some 8,000 troops are involved in the search to find them. Separately, Italian prosecuters are reported to have formally requested a trial of a US soldier accused of shooting dead an Italian intelligence agent in the capital last year.
They have accused Mario Lozano of manslaughter and attempted double homicide in the killing of Nicola Calipari. He had been escorting a newly freed Italian hostage to safety when he was shot at a checkpoint. A judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for an indictment. The American and Italian governments officially called the shooting an accident.