The Blade of Toledo newspaper first reported in October that the Army's 101st Airborne Division Tiger Force killed civilians - including women, children and elderly farmers -  over seven months in 1967. Tiger Force, a unit of 45 volunteers, was created to spy on forces of North Vietnam in South Vietnam's central highlands.

The interviews are "part of the review and assessment of the original investigation," Lt Col Kevin Curry, an Army spokesman, told The Blade for its Sunday editions. He declined to elaborate.

Curry could not be reached for additional comment by The Associated Press. Calls to his office went unanswered.

The review will be conducted under the direction of acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee, who was asked to look into the matter by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Investigators are expected to report their findings to Brownlee by March, according to a spokesman for US Rep Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat who has been pushing for a congressional investigation.

Witnesses

Army officials have not said how many witnesses will be interviewed, when the inquiry will end or whether charges would be sought against former soldiers and officers, the newspaper said.

"I've waited years to talk to them...I saw people killed who didn't deserve to die. It was wrong. I've lived with this for more than 30 years"

Dennis Stout,
Former army journalist

Investigators are expected to take statements from former army journalist Dennis Stout and ex-Tiger Force medic Rion Causey, both witnesses to the alleged atrocities, The Blade said.

Both Stout and Causey told the newspaper they were surprised when they were contacted last week by an Army investigator.

"I've waited years to talk to them," said Stout, 58. "I saw people killed who didn't deserve to die. It was wrong. I've lived with this for more than 30 years."
 
Causey, 56, said he was prepared to talk about the platoon's attacks on villagers.

'It went on and on'
 

"It wasn't about killing enemy soldiers. This was about killing villagers. It went on and on. By the end, I had just had it. I was just sick of it"

Rion Causey,
ex-Tiger Force medic

"What I can clearly say is that we went into that valley and we killed every male over 16 years old without question," he said. "I only saw one enemy gun the whole time. It wasn't about killing enemy soldiers. This was about killing villagers. It went on and on. By the end, I had just had it. I was just sick of it."
 
As part of the review, the Army has appointed an investigator to look into why a four-year investigation into the atrocities was dropped in 1975, with no charges filed. That investigation substantiated 20 war crimes by 18 soldiers, the newspaper said.