Survivors of an incident in Korean War in which hundreds of refugees were killed by American troops have rejected a statement of regret by President Clinton. According to some reports, up to 400 people were killed when US troops opened fire on refugees in the South Korean hamlet of No Gun Ri at the start of the Korean War in 1950. But a spokesman for the survivors said that they wanted an explicit apology and compensation. He said that they would take action against the US government at the International Court of Justice.
In the statement, Mr Clinton said, "On behalf of the United States of America, I deeply regret that Korean civilians lost their lives at No Gun Ri in late July, 1950. The intensive, year-long investigation into this incident has served as a painful reminder of the tragedies of war and the scars they leave behind on people and on nations." The US Defence Department report said that the US Review Team concluded that US commanders "did not issue oral or written orders to shoot and kill Korean civilians during the last week of July 1950 in the vicinity of No Gun Ri".
This conclusion was accompanied by a US-South Korean Memorandum of Understanding reached despite several references in military records that appear to authorise firing on Korean civilians. The shootings occurred as troops from the 7th Cavalry Regiment retreated in confusion in the face of a North Korean offensive. They came into contact with refugees near No Gun Ri, about 170 kilometres south of Seoul, around July 26, 1950.
Korean survivors said that they were first strafed or bombed by US aircraft and then driven into a tunnel and fired on for four days. The army report found no record of an air attack on July 26, but found records of a "friendly fire" strafing attack on a nearby US position the following day and an air strike on North Korean forces on 28 July. Among documents uncovered was a message that appeared in an army log on July 24, 1950 which stated: "No refugees to cross the frontline. Fire (at) everyone trying to cross the lines. Use discretion in the case of women and children."