The bodies of two U.S. soldiers reported captured last week have been found and the men appear to have been “killed in a barbaric way,” a senior Iraqi general said Tuesday. A statement posted on a militant Islamic Web site said the two men were killed by the new leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.
U.S. Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the remains, found late Monday by American troops, were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.
Caldwell said the cause of death was “undeterminable at this point,” and that DNA tests would be conducted to confirm the identities.
The two disappeared after an insurgent attack Friday at a checkpoint by a Euphrates River canal south of Baghdad and near the town of Youssifiyah. Spc. David J. Babineau, 25, of Springfield, Mass., was killed. The checkpoint was in the Sunni Arab region known as the “Triangle of Death” because of frequent ambushes there of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi troops.
The three men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division from Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
The director of the Iraqi defense military’s operation room, Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Mohammed, said the bodies showed signs of having been tortured. “With great regret, they were killed in a barbaric way,” he said.
Mohammed also said the two bodies were found on a street near Youssifiyah. The U.S. military could not confirm that account.