June 26, 2006

Military confirms two slain soldiers abducted

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military confirmed on Monday
that two American soldiers found dead south of Baghdad last
week were kidnapped and killed by insurgents and said their
"severely traumatized" bodies had been booby-trapped.

A military statement said Privates First Class Kristian
Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were part of a three-man team
guarding a canal crossing next to the Euphrates River when they
were taken south of Yusufiya on June 16.

"The two bodies, severely traumatized, were found bound
together with an IED (makeshift bomb) between one of the
soldiers' legs," it said.

The statement did not say where Menchaca and Tucker were
killed nor which group was behind the killings, but it said two
al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents were killed in a search operation
launched after the soldiers went missing.

A military spokesman said it was not clear when the two,
whose bodies were found on June 19, were killed.

A group linked to al Qaeda had said it abducted the two
American soldiers near Yusufiya, an al Qaeda stronghold.

The third soldier of the three-man team guarding the canal,
Specialist David Babineau, was killed when insurgents
overwhelmed their position on June 16, the U.S. military
statement said without providing more details.

Major General William Caldwell, the senior spokesman for
the U.S. military in Iraq, told reporters last week the bodies
were found at an electricity plant near Yusufiya and that they
were retrieved the day after they were discovered because the
area was rigged with explosives.

The statement said an explosive ordinance disposal team
cleared the route up to the site of the bodies, "fighting their
way through three roadside bombs in the process."

The U.S. military said 12 coalition soldiers were wounded
during the search, which involved 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi

The statement said 36 "suspected anti-Iraqi forces" had
been detained after the operation, and that two of the
detainees had admitted to being al Qaeda members.