US soldiers killed in Iraq

Saturday 26 March 2005 12:23 PM GMT

A car bomb has struck a US military patrol in the Iraqi
capital, killing two US soldiers and injuring two others.

Earlier, the US military announced a marine with the 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force died in action in the central
province of al-Anbar.

The names of the US troops slain were withheld pending
notification of the family, and no other details were given
on the car bombing.

The news came after US military officials in Iraq announced
they had thwarted an attempted prison escape at Camp Bucca,
discovering a 180-m tunnel leading out of the main prison
facility for detainees in Iraq.

The tunnel reached beyond the compound fence, but no one had
yet escaped, said Major Flora Lee, a spokeswoman at the US

Army's Combined Press Information Centre in Iraq.

She did not know when guards discovered the tunnel.

Escape planned

Camp Bucca holds 6049 detainees, nearly two-thirds of all
those in Iraq, Lee said. Situated near the southern city of
Umm Qasr, it is one of three detainee facilities in Iraq.

A bucket cut from a water container and a shovel made of tent
material were used to dig the tunnel, Lee said. The opening
was under a floorboard of the compound and was concealed with
dirt.

The authorities in charge of the compound realised a tunnel
was under way after they found dirt in latrines and other
places, Lee said. It may have been the most extensive effort
aimed at a mass escape.

"I'm not aware of any other instances where this has happened,
" Lee said. "There have been a few other attempts at digging
a tunnel but nothing of this size."

US guards fired on prisoners during a riot at Camp Bucca on
31 January, killing four detainees and injuring six others.

Fighters detained

Also on Saturday, a senior Iraqi defence ministry official
said Iraqi troops backed by US forces detained 121 suspected
fighters and uncovered a massive weapons cache during a joint
raid south of Baghdad.

The official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity,
said the operation at the town of Musayyib turned up hundreds
of Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well
as car bombs, machine guns, rockets, mortar rounds and other
munitions.

Gunfire broke out during the raid, but there were no injuries
to any US troops or Iraqi security forces, the official said.

There was no word on any casualties among the suspected
fighters' ranks.

Planned attacks

Some of the suspected fighters planned to attack Shia Muslims
expected in the coming days to head to an annual religious
celebration in the nearby city of Karbala, the official said.

A US military spokesman had no immediate information on any
raid at Musayyib, 60km south of Baghdad, and an interim Iraqi
Defence Ministry spokesman was not immediately able to
confirm the operation.

Agencies
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US troops killed in Afghan blast

Saturday 26 March 2005 8:29 AM GMT

Four US soldiers have been killed in a mine blast southwest
of Kabul in the southeastern Afghan province of Logar, the US
military says.

"Four US troops were killed in action but we have no
indication that this was a new mine or an IED (improvised
explosive device)," US military spokeswoman Cindy Moore said
on Saturday.

She said the bodies of the soldiers had already been
evacuated from the area, 40km southwest of Kabul, and an
investigation was ongoing to determin0000000000000000e the
cause of the explosion.

The explosion took place in the Shur Endim area near Kandahar
airport in the southern part of the country, Aljazeera's
correspondent in Afghanistan reported.

Afghanistan is littered with old, unexploded mines after a
quarter century of war, and it was not immediately clear if
Saturday's deaths were the result of an unexploded or freshly
laid device.

Saturday's explosion brings to seven the number of US
soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan.

A US soldier was killed in the western region Herat in a mine
blast earlier this month.

Aljazeera + Agencies
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US Army won't prosecute 17 soldiers

Saturday 26 March 2005 5:38 PM GMT

US Army officials have decided not to prosecute 17 soldiers
involved in the deaths of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan,
a military report says.

Military investigators recommended courts-martial for the
soldiers in the cases of three prisoner deaths for charges
ranging from making false statements to murder.

Officers rejected those recommendations, ruling that the
soldiers lawfully used force or didn't understand the rules
for using force, or that there was not enough evidence to
prosecute.

Eleven US Army soldiers are facing murder or other charges
involving the deaths of detainees in Iraq or Afghanistan.

New report

The Army Criminal Investigation Command released a report on
Friday detailing the cases of 27 detainees killed in custody
in Iraq and Afghanistan between August 2002 and November
2004.

Twenty-four cases encompassed the 27 deaths; 16
investigations have been closed and eight remain open,
according to the Army report released Friday.

Five cases were referred to other agencies, including deaths
involving Navy and Marine troops and CIA operatives.

"We take each and every death very seriously and are
committed and sworn to investigating each case with the
utmost professionalism and thoroughness," said Chris Grey, a
spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command.

Considering charges

Army investigators turn over their recommendations to
commanders of the soldiers involved when they finish their
investigations. Those commanders can decide whether to bring
criminal charges against the accused soldiers.

In one case, commanders decided not to file recommended
criminal charges against 11 soldiers involved in the death of
a former Iraqi Army lieutenant colonel in January 2004.

An autopsy indicated the man died from blunt force injuries
and asphyxia. Investigators determined there was enough
evidence for negligent homicide charges against two soldiers
and for lesser charges, ranging from making false statements
to assault, against nine others.

The accused soldiers' commander, however, decided that the
soldiers were justified in using force against the Iraqi
because he was being aggressive and misbehaving. The case is
closed.

Afghanistan death

In another case, Army Special Forces commanders decided not
to bring charges against a soldier accused of shooting and
killing a detainee in Afghanistan in 2002.

The Special Forces commanders decided there wasn't enough
evidence to bring that soldier to trial, The New York Times
reported Saturday.

The third case involved a soldier who killed an Iraqi
detainee in September 2003. That soldier's commander decided
the soldier was not well informed about the rules for using
force against prisoners.

One case where soldiers are facing courts-martial involves
the death of a former Iraqi Army major general who was
stuffed headfirst into a sleeping bag and suffocated. Four
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldiers are awaiting trial on
murder charges at Fort Carson, Colorado, in that case.

Iraqi killings

Another case involves three killings in the Sadr City sector
of Baghdad in August 2004, all involving soldiers from the
1st Cavalry Division who allegedly shot the Iraqis during
search operations.

Two soldiers in these cases have pleaded guilty at courts-
martial and charges against two other soldiers are pending
courts-martial, the Army said.

In one of the Sadr City cases, two 1st Cavalry soldiers have
been convicted of murder. One is Staff Sergeant Johnny M.
Horne, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, who pleaded guilty
10 December 2004 to killing a critically wounded 16-year-old
Iraqi on 18 August 2004.

Horne described it as a mercy killing. He was sentenced to
three years in prison, a reduction in rank to private, total
forfeiture of wages and a dishonorable discharge.

Army discharge

The other soldier convicted in the same killing was Staff
Sergeant Cardenas J. Alban of Inglewood, California. He was
convicted on 14 January and sentenced to one year in prison,
a bad-conduct discharge from the Army and reduction in rank
to private.

Another 1st Cavalry soldier faces charges of murder and
obstruction of justice in the deaths of two other Iraqis who
were killed while being detained during the same August 2004
operation in Sadr City.

Still another soldier faces charges of murder and making a
false statement about one of those two deaths. The
involvement of other soldiers is still under investigation.

AFP
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Troops thwart Iraq prison escape

Iraqi inmates have used bits of plastic, metal and wood to
dig two tunnels out of the country's main prison, US
officials say.

One of the tunnels was 200m (600ft) long and went beyond the
security fence of Camp Bucca but no-one escaped, US army
spokeswoman Maj Flora Lee said.

Troops mounted an extensive search after finding dirt in the
toilets and other places in the compound, she said.

Camp Bucca, near the southern town of Umm Qasr, holds over
6,000 inmates.

In other developments:

Two US troops are killed in a suicide car bomb blast in
Baghdad, the US military says

As many as 131 Iraqi insurgents are detained in an operation
near the holy city of Karbala, Iraqi officials say

A new Iraqi president may be nominated on Tuesday, media
reports suggest.

'Nothing of this size'

The attempted jailbreak was extremely elaborate, another US
spokesman said.

He said it was believed that the tunnels had been dug over
several weeks and prisoners had waited for poor weather and
low visibility before trying to make an escape.

A shovel cut from a water container was said to have been
used to dig the tunnel.

Maj Lee said the entrance to the tunnel was under a
floorboard and was concealed with dirt.

"I'm not aware of any other instances where this has
happened," she said.

"There have been a few other attempts at digging a tunnel,
but nothing of this size."

US guards shot dead four prisoners at the jail in January
after a routine search in the cells.