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FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp
The FBI is investigating an alleged assault on a female service member at an Afghan refugee camp in New Mexico.
In a statement to The Hill on Friday, the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas, said that a female service member reported being assaulted by "a small group of male evacuees" while at the Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico on Sunday.
"We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation," the statement said. "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."
Fort Bliss also said it is "implementing additional security measures to include increased health and safety patrols, additional lighting, and enforcement of the buddy system at the Dona Ana Complex."
"We will cooperate fully with the FBI and will continue to ensure the service member reporting this assault is fully supported," the statement said.
The FBI confirmed to The Hill that its El Paso office is investigating the incident.
News of the alleged assault comes weeks after officials set up the camp to house individuals who had been evacuated from Afghanistan amid the chaotic U.S. exit from the country.
Republicans have slammed the Biden administration over the withdrawal, and on Friday cited the reported assault at the refugee camp to further lash out over the process for vetting refugees.
"This is yet another tragic failure in the vetting process for Afghan nationals. The American people deserve answers," tweeted Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.).
"Joe Biden made a decision to shove tens of thousands people on planes to make it look like his botched evacuation was going well," Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted. "The truth is he had no idea who he brought to the US. That's why I led a letter today demanding accountability and answers."
Fort Bliss was one of eight U.S. military bases that were to house Afghan refugees. The bases were expected to house about 50,000 Afghans.
Earlier this week, an Afghan evacuee at another base in Fort McCoy, Wis., was charged criminally for attempting to engage in a sexual act with a minor.