Friday, June 30, 2006
Rape In Iraq, Grief In A Farm Town...A Connection?
For many young people in rural places, military service appears to be about the only way out of a depressed area.
Of two soldiers recently kidnapped and killed in Iraq, one is from this area—Madras, up the road about forty-five minutes. Madras is a farm town, but the farming is becoming less and less productive, due to competition from overseas. There used to be sawmills there, as well, but they’ve become scarce. There isn’t a lot of hope about the future for a lot of kids. The military brags about teaching skills, money for college, adventure...all the things that sound good when you’re young and unsure. Unfortunately, what is promised and what is delivered are two different things.
It looks like maybe the young man from Madras was murdered because his unit did something pretty bad.
U.S. soldiers investigated for alleged rape, killings in Iraq
6/30/2006, 9:18 a.m. PT
By RYAN LENZ
The Associated Press
BEIJI, Iraq (AP) — Five U.S. Army soldiers are being investigated for allegedly raping a young woman, then killing her and three members of her family in Iraq, a U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Friday.
The soldiers also allegedly burned the body of the woman they are accused of assaulting in the March incident, the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of coalition troops in Baghdad, had ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged killing of a family of four in Mahmoudiyah, south of Baghdad, the U.S. command said. It did not elaborate.
The case represents the latest allegations against U.S. soldiers stemming from the deaths of Iraqis. At least 14 U.S. troops have been convicted.
However, a U.S. official close to the investigation said at least one of the soldiers, all assigned to the 502nd Infantry Regiment, has admitted his role and has been arrested. Two soldiers from the same regiment, including Pfc. Thomas Tucker of Madras, were slain this month when they were kidnapped at a checkpoint near Youssifiyah.
The official said the accused soldiers were from the same platoon as the two slain soldiers, whose bodies were mutilated. He said the mutilation of the slain soldiers stirred feelings of guilt and led at least one of them to reveal the rape-slaying on June 22.
At least four other soldiers have had their weapons taken away and are confined to Forward Operating Base Mahmoudiyah south of Baghdad.
The official said the killings appear to be unrelated to the kidnappings. He said those involved were all below the rank of sergeant. Senior officers were aware of the family's death but believed it was due to sectarian violence, common in the religiously mixed town, he said.
The killings appeared to have been a "crime of opportunity," the official said. The soldiers had not been attacked by insurgents but had noticed the woman on previous patrols.
AP correspondent Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 101st Airborne Division in Beiji, Iraq. He was previously embedded with the 502nd Infantry Regiment in Mahmoudiyah.
The Associated Press News and Information Research Center contributed to this report.
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