BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — The U.S. military said yesterday it is investigating the videotaped fatal shooting of a wounded man by a U.S. Marine in a mosque in Fallujah. Iraqis condemned the act as “cowardice” and “something forbidden in Islam.”

Investigators will determine whether the Marine acted in self-defense against what a spokesman described as an “enemy combatant.”

The dramatic footage was taken Saturday by pool correspondent Kevin Sites of NBC television, whose report said the man who was killed didn’t appear to be armed or threatening in any way, with no weapons visible in the mosque.

The slain man was among a group of men wounded in fighting a day earlier at the mosque and left there. Three others in the group were also shot again Saturday by Marines, Sites said.

The Marine involved in the fatal shooting was withdrawn from the battlefield pending the results of the investigation, the U.S. military said.

“We follow the law of armed conflict and hold ourselves to a high standard of accountability,” said Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. “The facts of this case will be thoroughly pursued to make an informed decision and to protect the rights of all persons involved.”

The Marine statement said the investigators would look at “an allegation of the unlawful use of force in the death of an enemy combatant.”

“The purpose of this investigation is to determine whether the Marine acted in self-defense, violated military law or failed to comply with the Law of Armed Conflict,” it said.

Florian Westphal, a spokesman for the International Committee for the Red Cross, said he couldn’t say for sure whether the men in the mosque were prisoners or not.

“The fact that was reported was that he was wounded. But whether he was already a prisoner or not was not clear to me,” Westphal said.

“We cannot, on the basis of TV images — no matter how disturbing and disconcerting they are — arrive at a judgment about an incident. We were not on the spot so we cannot be aware of all the circumstances of this incident,” he said.

“It’s clearly recognized that people in combat situations are under enormous strain,” Westphal said

He added, the Geneva Conventions are clear: Protection of wounded combatants once they are out of action is a basic rule.

Iraqi Interior Minister Falah Hassan al-Nagib said that while “killing a wounded person is rejected by us,” the militants in Fallujah were responsible for their own brutal acts against Iraqis and foreigners, and were “killers and criminals.”

Footage of the shooting was aired on Al-Jazeera television. Iraqis interviewed yesterday in Baghdad harshly condemned the killing.

“It is something forbidden in Islam, an American killed an unarmed Iraqi prisoner inside a mosque,” said Abdul-Sattar Naji.

Another Iraqi in Baghdad, Tareq Ali, called it “a criminal act” that “indicates the cowardice of the soldier who did that. The injured should be treated according to the law of wars.”

Omar Ragib of the Sunni clerical Association of Muslim Scholars, said American troops “pay no heed” to the injured, the unarmed and the sanctity of mosques.

“We saw the troops entered the mosque after they shelled it,” he said. “And we saw the effect of bombardment on the mosque walls.”

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