FIVE American soldiers are being investigated over the rape and killing of a young woman in Iraq.
The troops also allegedly burned her body and killed three of her relatives.
The alleged incident further tarnishes the already battered image of the U.S. military in the Arab world.
Last night Major General James Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, ordered a criminal investigation into the killing of the family of four in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, in March.
A military spokesman said: 'The entire investigation will encompass everything that could have happened that evening. We're not releasing any specifics.
'There is no indication what led soldiers to the home of this family. The investigation just cracked open.
'We're just beginning to dig into the details.' But an official close to the inquiry said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, had admitted his role and has been arrested.
Two soldiers from the regiment were killed in early June when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint in the area and their bodies were mutilated.
The official said some in the regiment believed that incident was in revenge for the rape of the woman and the murder of her and her family.
He said the mutilation of the two soldiers had stirred feelings of guilt among the regiment - leading at least one of them to confess to the rape.
One of the soldiers has already been discharged and is believed to be back in the United States, the official said.
The others are confined to their base in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad. …