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Tortured bodies of US soldiers found

Baghdad, June 20 (Reuters): Two US soldiers who went missing after an attack on their checkpoint were found dead last night, and a senior Iraqi defence official said their bodies showed signs of “barbaric” torture.

“Coalition forces have recovered what we believe are the remains of the soldiers,” US military spokesman Major General William Caldwell said in Baghdad today. He said the bodies would be returned to the US for identification and autopsies to determine how they died.

Iraqi defence ministry official Major General Abdul Aziz Mohammed said earlier that a joint US-Iraqi force found the bodies of Thomas Lowell Tucker, 25, and Kristian Menchaca, 23, near an electricity plant in Yusufiya. He said the bodies showed signs of “barbaric torture”.

The US military launched an intensive hunt for the soldiers involving aircraft and thousands of troops after vowing not to leave them “out there”.

The Mujahideen Shura Council, an umbrella body of insurgent groups led by al Qaida, claimed in an Internet posting yesterday to have abducted the two soldiers. However, it provided no video nor documentary evidence that it was holding them.

The two went missing at dusk on Friday after an ambush at a checkpoint in Yusufiya, a town in an area south of Baghdad some Iraqis call the “Triangle of Death”, which is an al Qaida stronghold.

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