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Search for remains of Nogeun-ri massacre likely to end with no remains found

All Headlines 11:43 August 22, 2007

SEOUL, Aug. 22 (Yonhap) -- The search for the remains of victims of a U.S. massacre during the 1950-53 Korean War is likely to end Wednesday with no remains found, officials said, adding that the remains may have been damaged by heavy rains or taken away by their bereaved families.

In July 1950, U.S. soldiers opened fire on approaching South Korean refugees at Nogeun-ri, about 160 km south of Seoul, believing North Korean soldiers were hiding among them, according to a 2001 Pentagon report. Hundreds of South Koreans, including many women and children, are believed to have been killed.

The U.S. government expressed regret over the incident, but it's still unclear whether the mass killing took place under orders or was the result of panicky soldiers shooting at refugees.

The 28-day excavation began on July 26 to mark the 57th anniversary of the killing.

The excavation team, comprised of experts from Choongbuk University and family members of the victims, made no new finds, except for a deformed body assumed to be that of a child, the officials said.

"We failed to find the remains from a hill where one of the survivors claimed that he and other people buried 40 to 50 bodies 15 days after the massacre occurred," said Prof. Park Sun-joo of Choongbuk University, who headed the excavation team.

"The remains might have been damaged by climate conditions, such as heavy rains during the past 57 years, or taken by some of the surviving families."

The team may excavate two or three more spots at the request of the survivors, he said, but added he did not expect to find any remains.

The team is scheduled to be disbanded at the end of August or in early September.

ygkim@yna.co.kr
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