AP: U.S. military provided false account of soldiers' deaths

The military says five soldiers died while "repelling" an attack. Sources say they were kidnapped and killed.

Published January 26, 2007 5:40PM (EST)

When insurgents disguised as American troops attacked an Iraqi government facility in Karbala last weekend, the U.S. military issued a statement in which it said that five U.S. soldiers had been killed while "repelling" the attack. A U.S. military spokesman specifically denied a report that some U.S. soldiers had been kidnapped.

Like so much the government has said about the war in Iraq, that wasn't exactly true. As the Associated Press reports, Iraqi officials and two senior U.S. military officials now say that four of the five U.S. soldiers who died were in fact "captured and taken away from the governor's compound alive."

The Americans were found later in locations as far as 25 miles away from the attack, the AP says. Three were already dead, and one was suffering injuries from which he subsequently died. While U.S. officials tell the AP that they can't be sure when or where the soldiers suffered their mortal injuries, Iraqi officials say they believe the troops were killed just before the attackers abandoned the black Suburbans they had used to conduct the raid.

There's no official explanation from the military yet, and it seems unlikely that we'll get one soon. As the AP explains, "The new information has emerged after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad repeatedly declined comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials which suggested a major breakdown in security at [the] Karbala site."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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