Troops Died After, Not In, Sneak Attack
Associated Press | January 26, 2007
STEVEN R. HURST and QASSIM ABDUL-ZHARA
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Contrary to U.S. military statements, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor's office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away.
The brazen assault 50 miles south of Baghdad was launched Jan. 20 by a group of nine to 12 militants. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles - the type used by U.S. government convoys, had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English.
In a written statement, the U.S. command reported at the time that five soldiers were killed while "repelling the attack." Two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials now say three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor's office.
The U.S. officials said they could not be sure if the soldiers were killed as the attackers drove them to the place where they abandoned the Suburbans or afterward. Iraqi officials said the men were killed just before the vehicles were abandoned.
The daring commando team also took an unclassified U.S. computer with them as they fled with the four soldiers and left behind an American M-4 automatic rifle, senior U.S. military officials said.
For more than a week, the U.S. military in Baghdad declined comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials which suggested a major breakdown in security surrounding U.S. forces in Karbala.
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