Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Missing U.S. soldiers named, abduction believed to be 'planned'

(CNN) - U.S. forces searching for three soldiers abducted in a Saturday attack south of Baghdad believe the troops were kidnapped in a "planned snatch," involving at least 10 insurgents, a senior U.S. military official said. Insurgents targeted a "stationary observation post" -- where troops looked for people planting bombs, the official said.
The kidnapping was part of a "complex attack," meaning the attackers used many different weapons such as firearms and grenades, but the source wouldn't be specific on the kinds of weapons used. A nearby unit heard explosions early Saturday "and attempted to establish communications, but without success." Later, an unmanned aerial vehicle spotted two burning vehicles and coalition forces arrived within the hour.
Four soldiers also were killed in the attack in a region known as the Triangle of Death. Thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers -- backed by everything from air support to dog teams -- are searching for the missing troops. Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, said 11 people have been detained, and four of them are considered high-value targets. As of Monday, 460 people have been questioned since the search was launched, Garver said, and the military has received more than 50 tips from people.
The slain and missing U.S. soldiers -- all men -- were from Fort Drum in New York, and all have been identified as members of the 10th Mountain Division's Second Brigade. The families of the seven have been notified that their kin were involved. Three of the slain have been identified by the Pentagon. They are Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Virginia; Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Vermontville, Michigan; and Sgt. 1st Class James D. Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tennessee. The number of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq now stands at 3,401, including seven contractors.
Four others -- three missing and one of the dead -- remain listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown." The military can't yet sort out precisely who is missing because one of the four bodies is so badly burned that it can't be immediately identified. The Department of Defense identified the four as Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nevada; Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts; Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California; and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan.
The military was performing a DNA test to determine the soldier's identity and hopes to have the testing completed by midday Wednesday. The bodies were to arrive on Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The Islamic State of Iraq -- a Sunni insurgent coalition that includes al Qaeda in Iraq -- issued a statement Monday saying it is holding the troops and is warning the U.S. military to call off its search. CNN cannot independently verify the claim, posted on Islamist Web sites.

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