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In brief: Soldiers charged with murder plans

Thu., Aug. 26, 2010

Seattle – Five soldiers accused of killing civilians in Afghanistan are now facing additional charges of conspiracy to commit premeditated murder – a plot that allegedly began when one soldier discussed how easy it would be to “toss a grenade” at Afghan civilians, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

The five soldiers were charged with murder in June for the deaths of three Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province this year. According to charging summaries newly released by the Army, additional allegations of conspiracy have since been filed against those soldiers, and seven others have been charged in connection with the conspiracy or with attempting to cover it up.

The new charges arose from the investigations into the killings and into a brutal assault on an enlisted man who had informed on soldiers smoking hashish, the Times reported. The informant reported hearing soldiers talk about killing civilians.

Denver – An inmate who made his fourth escape by fleeing a maximum-security prison in northeast Colorado surrendered Wednesday in a rural home where he had been holding a woman hostage, a prison official said.

Douglas J. Alward, 48, gave up without a struggle near the town of Yuma, and the woman was unharmed.

Authorities said Alward would have been eligible for parole in two months. He was serving a 20- to- 40-year sentence at the Sterling Correctional Facility for attempted murder, assault, burglary and kidnapping when he escaped Sunday. Alward will face additional charges for his escape.

State corrections officials will focus on how Alward was able to escape, possibly tapping an outside entity to investigate. Ari Zavaras, state corrections director, said they know he breached the fence around the perimeter using materials he apparently got from inside the prison.

Washington – An unmanned aircraft went off course during testing and entered restricted airspace near the nation’s capital earlier this month, the Navy said Wednesday.

The craft, an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle, is one of six the Navy is testing for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. It was supposed to fly a preprogrammed route over the Webster Field Annex at the naval air station at Patuxent River, Md., a Navy spokesman, Lt. Myers Vasquez, said.

During testing on Aug. 2, controllers lost the link to the aircraft and it flew off route into the restricted area. Vasquez said the craft was about 40 miles away from Washington.

The controllers were able to reprogram the craft and bring it back to the field about 20 minutes after they lost contact with the craft, Vasquez said.


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