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BLOCK: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News, I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And I'm Michele Norris.
Today the Army revealed that it has opened a new investigation into the abuse and killing of civilians in Iraq. A soldier from the 101 Airborne Division and another who was recently discharged are being investigated in the rape and murder of an Iraqi woman. Investigators are also looking into the deaths of three other Iraqis in the house where that rape allegedly occurred. The incident happened in March in the town of Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.
NPR's Tom Bowman joins us now. Tom, what do we know so far?
TOM BOWMAN reporting:
Well the allegations are that an Iraqi woman in this town south of Baghdad was raped by both of the soldiers and then one of the soldiers allegedly killed her and three others in the house. These were presumably relatives. Now they included two adults and a child and an army official says that they were all likely shot. There were some news reports that the woman's body was burned and/or the house was burned down, but officials say they have no information on that at this point.
NORRIS: Tom, how did this investigation begin?
BOWMAN: Well it's very interesting how this came about. It began within the last week when soldiers from Bravo Company, first brigade of the 502 infantry were undergoing what is known as combat stress debriefing. That unit recently lost two soldiers. Privates Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca. They were killed by insurgents and their bodies were found on the 19 of June.
And psychiatrists and mental health worker routinely counsel soldiers who have gone through this kind of trauma and during these debriefings they often ask soldiers about any crimes they've witnessed and that's when two of these soldiers talked about what they heard happened in March. One said he heard rumors about a murder and a rape. Another said that he actually overheard soldiers talking about taking part in rape and murder.
NORRIS: And what's the status of those two that were allegedly involved in that, the soldier and the former soldier?
BOWMAN: Well, we're told that the active duty soldier is being confined to the base and is being interviewed by Army criminal investigators and also the other soldier has been discharged from the Army and we're told the Justice Department will be working with local law enforcement to apprehend him and question him. Now that former soldier could be brought back on active duty and prosecuted in a military court.
NORRIS: And the investigation, it continues?
BOWMAN: That's right, the investigation continues and at this point we just have Army criminal investigators interviewing the current soldier and again looking for the former solider, but no charges at this time, still on-going investigation.
NORRIS: Thank you, Tom.
BOWMAN: Thank you.
NORRIS: NPR's Tom Bowman reporting from the Pentagon.
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