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Former US Soldier Pleads Not Guilty in Case of Rape, Murder in Iraq

A former U.S. soldier has pleaded not guilty to raping and murdering an Iraqi woman and killing three members of her family.

Former Army private Steven Green entered his plea Thursday in federal court in Kentucky.

Other U.S. soldiers are under investigation in the case.

Earlier, the top U.S. diplomatic and military officials in Iraq said the alleged killing of four Iraqi civilians by U.S. soldiers is "absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable." Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and General George W. Casey pledged to hold service members accountable if they are found guilty of misconduct.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki repeated his call for an independent inquiry into the allegations.

In violence in Iraq Thursday, a suicide car bombing outside a Shi'ite shrine in Kufa killed at least 12 people, including eight Iranian pilgrims.

Police say the bomber drove his car between the vehicles carrying Iranian pilgrims and detonated explosives near the Maytham al-Tamar shrine.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.