Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Are Combat Deaths in Iraq Being Disguised as Accidents?

"First Sgt. Christopher Coffin, 51, became the fifth soldier with Maine ties to die in Iraq after his vehicle ran into a ditch on July 1. He was a member of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command assisting convoys traveling between Baghdad and Kuwait.

The details of Coffin's death have been mired in confusion since the day it was announced by the military.

Initially, a press release from Coffin's unit stated he died after his vehicle swerved to avoid a civilian vehicle.

But a report from the U.S. Central Command issued a day before said a member of Coffin's unit was killed July 1 when his convoy was hit by "an improvised explosive device."

That report did not name Coffin, but he was the only member of his unit to die that day.

Now a new report from Time, citing "Coffin family members and U.S. government officials looking into the case," says Coffin's vehicle was deliberately run off the road, then surrounded by an angry mob. A Humvee following Coffin stopped to help, but was also overwhelmed and then set on fire."

. . .

"The case raises a very troubling question, which is, are combat deaths being disguised as accidents . . . so it would appear less harm is being caused by the Iraqi resistance than is the case?" asked Rep. Tom Allen, D-Maine.

Go here for a current list of all coalition deaths, including a brief description of the circumstances.


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