Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings

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By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, July 3, 2006

BAGHDAD, July 2 -- Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.

As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmudiyah, her mother told the neighbor.

Abeer told her mother again and again in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

Fakhriyah feared that the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there.

Janabi said he agreed.

Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing."

Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter.

Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and young sister.

Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed that the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies also said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.

Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members -- two of Abeer's brothers had been away at school -- and attempted to set Abeer's body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmudiyah and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the case.

The U.S. military said last week that authorities were investigating allegations of a rape and killings in Mahmudiyah by soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division.

The mayor of Mahmudiyah, Mouyad Fadhil Saif, said Sunday that the case was being investigated by the U.S. military as an alleged atrocity.


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