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Soldier Killed, Two Missing in Separate Incidents in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 27, 2003 – A soldier was killed near an Najaf June 26 and coalition forces are searching for two soldiers missing since June 25, U.S. Central Command officials said today.

The soldier who was killed was attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and was the victim of an ambush, officials said. A news release said the soldier was investigating a car theft. The incident is under investigation.

Coalition forces have launched air and ground searches to locate two American soldiers missing since June 25. The soldiers were part of a force providing perimeter security for the Balad rocket demolition site near Taji. The facility is about 40 kilometers north of Baghdad, firmly in the midst of the "Sunni Triangle" of Tikrit, Baghdad and Ar Ramadi that is a hotbed of support for the former regime.

Officials would confirm only that the soldiers are members of Combined Joint Task Force 7 and that the site is in the 4th Infantry Division area of operations. The names are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

DoD officials are not saying the soldiers were abducted. "We don't know what happened to them," a DoD spokeswoman said. No one has claimed responsibility for the incident.

The soldiers failed to respond to a routine radio check at 8:30 a.m. on June 25. They normally would have been in visual range of other American soldiers, but a sandstorm cut down visibility, officials said. A spokesman in Baghdad said a search patrol arrived at the site "almost immediately" after the soldiers did not respond. Missing were the soldiers, their Humvee and all their gear and weapons.

Officials said as a result of the incident, commanders are re-examining their force-protection procedures.

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