The FBI is investigating an allegation that a group of male Afghan evacuees being housed at Fort Bliss in New Mexico assaulted a female service member stationed at the base.
The service member who reported the incident was supporting a Department of Homeland Security initiative to assist evacuated Afghans known as Operation Allies Welcome when she reported the Sept. 19 assault, according to Fort Bliss Public Affairs. Fox News first reported the assault.
“We take the allegation seriously and appropriately referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Fort Bliss officials said in a statement to Fox News. “The safety and well-being of our service members, as well as all of those on our installations, is paramount.”
The FBI confirmed Friday that they were investigating the incident.
Republican lawmakers have begun raising alarms over the vetting process in place for the thousands of Afghans who were evacuated amid the U.S. military’s chaotic withdrawal at the end of August, despite White House assurances that the administration has put screening safeguards in place.
“My prayers are with the courageous soldier and her family,” said Rep. Yvette Herrell, New Mexico Republican. “This is yet another tragic failure in the vetting process for Afghan nationals. The American people deserve answers.”
Earlier this week, two refugees housed at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin were indicted for sexual assault involving a minor and domestic assault.
Fort Bliss officials said the service member has been provided with counseling and support in light of the attack.
There are approximately 9,700 evacuees currently housed at Fort Bliss and approximately 53,000 total at eight installations across the U.S.