(FORT BLISS, N.M.) — The FBI is investigating after a female U.S. service member reported she was assaulted by a group of male Afghan evacuees at Fort Bliss in New Mexico.
The woman, who was helping to support the evacuees brought from Afghanistan to the United States in the wake of the Taliban reclaiming the country, reported she was assaulted by a small group at the Doña Ana Complex on Sept. 19, according to Lt. Col. Allie M. Payne, the director of public affairs for Fort Bliss.
“We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Payne said in a statement. “The safety and well-being of our service members, as well as all of those on our installations, is paramount. We immediately provided appropriate care, counseling and support to the service member.”
The base also said it is adding security measures, like increased lighting, safety patrols and enforcing a buddy system.
“We received the referral from Fort Bliss and our office is investigating the allegation,” FBI El Paso said in a statement.
There were no further details about the incident.
The Doña Ana Complex, which is about a half hour north of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, across the New Mexico border, is used as a firing range, but was converted into a sprawling, air conditioned tent city for incoming evacuees.
The Biden administration chose Fort Bliss two weeks ago when it granted access to the media to one of the facilities housing the tens of thousands of Afghan evacuees who were flown out of Kabul in a frenzied, chaotic process prompted by the Taliban reasserting control of the country much sooner than anticipated.
About 10,000 evacuees are staying at the facility until they can be processed and resettled, according to U.S. officials. All of the evacuees were subject to a thorough vetting process before they were flown to the U.S., according to U.S. officials.
News of the investigation of the assault on a female service member follows the arrests of two Afghan evacuees at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin this week.
Mohammad Haroon Imaad, 32, was charged with strangling and suffocating his wife in an incident that took place Sept. 7, according to the indictment, and Bahrullah Noori, 20, was charged with attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor.
Court documents say 13,000 people related to the resettlement are being housed at Fort McCoy.
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