The FBI is investigating an alleged assault against a female US service member by a small number of male refugees near the Fort Bliss camp where they are being housed, officials said.
The incident occurred on 19 September at Doña Ana Village, a short distance across the border in New Mexico, where Fort Bliss is overseeing temporary accommodations for thousands of evacuees from Afghanistan, base officials told the El Paso Times. Fort Bliss is located in Texas.
“We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Fort Bliss officials told the newspaper in an emailed statement. “The safety and well-being of our service members, as well as all of those on our installations, is paramount.”
Special Agent Jeanette Harper of the FBI’s El Paso division told local ABC affiliate KVIA that her office was “investigating the allegation”.
Sources told the station that the woman had received medical care after the assault, which was not sexual in nature, but did not require hospitalization.
Additional security and safety measures are being put into place at the complex, officials told the El Paso Times.
“Task Force-Bliss is also implementing additional security measures to include increased health and safety patrols, additional lighting, and enforcement of the buddy system at the Doña Ana Complex,” officials said. “We will cooperate fully with the FBI and will continue to ensure the service member reporting this assault is fully supported.”
An Afghan refugee went viral earlier this months – and later received death threats – after tweeting a photo of a paltry meal at Fort Bliss, where he was being housed following his evacuation and relocation.
Hamed Ahmadi, a 28-year-old journalist and translator, told The Independent that conditions were cramped and minimalistic but he and his fellow refugees appreciated the US support in getting out of their home country – which most did not want to leave but were forced to flee for their own safety.
He said he and others were looking forward to being able to settle and get jobs to contribute to American society but had “mixed feelings”.
“I felt that sometimes, I had the privilege of fleeing Kabul ... and then I feel guilty about leaving everyone behind who are really in danger,” he told The Independent.