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Payments made to 17 Afghans for deaths

CAMP LEJEUNE (AP) -- A military official has testified that payments were made to Afghan civilians if they were injured or had relatives killed by a Marine special operations unit as they reacted to a March car bombing. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Phillips says he organized two ceremonies where money was given to people on a list approved by the provincial governor. Phillips testified yesterday at Camp Lejeune before a panel investigating the shooting, which followed a suicide car bombing. Phillips says since the payments, there have been no bombings in the area. He told the panel the payments weren't an admission of guilt but rather a gesture to soothe feelings. Members of the new Marine special operations unit say they were ambushed after the bombing. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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