A Female Soldier at Fort Bliss Said She Was Assaulted by a Group of Male Afghan Refugees, Officials Say

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Afghan evacuees walk to their living quarters at Fort Bliss, Texas.
U.S. soldiers escort Afghan evacuees to their living accommodations at Fort Bliss’ Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico, Aug. 31, 2021. The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, and in support of the Department of Homeland Security, is providing transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support for at least 50,000 Afghan evacuees at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible. (Michael West/U.S. Army)

A female soldier at Fort Bliss reported she was assaulted by a group of male Afghan refugees, officials said Friday.

"We can confirm a female service member supporting Operation Allies Welcome reported being assaulted on Sept. 19 by a small group of male evacuees at the Doña Ana Complex in New Mexico," Lt. Col. Allie Payne, director of Public Affairs for Fort Bliss and the 1st Armored Division, said in a statement to ABC-7.

Payne said extra security measures will be taken at the Doña Ana Complex, such as better lighting, and that the soldier has received medical care and counseling. She also said the FBI is investigating.

Sources with knowledge of the incident told ABC-7 the assault was not sexual in nature and that the soldier was attacked near her car after arriving for duty.

Violence is an ongoing problem for female soldiers, particularly sexual assault and harassment. According to the nonprofit Futures Without Violence, "women in the military are particularly vulnerable to abuse due to geographical isolation from family and friends, and the potential for social isolation within the military culture."

During the U.S.'s withdrawal from Afghanistan, tens of thousands of Afghan allies and refugees were evacuated and sent to the states. Nearly 49,000 are being held on eight military bases throughout the country as they await resettlement, according to a federal document obtained by The New York Times.

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