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Army to Probe Bagram Soldier's Death
Stars and Stripes  |  October 06, 2007
Army investigators are probing the deepening circumstances surrounding the death of a Massachusetts National Guard Soldier who was found on Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, with a single gunshot wound to the head.

The family of Spc. Ciara M. Durkin, 30, has in recent days suggested that she was killed by someone on the base.

On Wednesday night, according to a family statement, they met with Army investigators for about four hours.

"The family is confident that the Army is conducting a thorough investigation of Ciara's death and intends to give the Army time to complete its inquiry," the statement read. The family has said that Durkin's body was found near a chapel on Bagram.

In interviews this week, they have wondered whether Durkin was killed for one of two reasons: she was gay, and she had allegedly told family members that she had stumbled across "strange" information in the course of her work.

Durkin, who was born in Ireland but moved to the U.S. when she was 9, was assigned to the 726th Finance Battalion.

Durkin's sister, Fiona Canavan, told the Patriot Ledger newspaper that Durkin had raised concerns when she was home on leave around a month ago.

"She said, 'I discovered something I don't like and I made some enemies because of it,' " Canavan said. "At the time we thought it was said more as a joke."

The case has drawn wide attention. The government of Ireland has requested to be informed of the progress of the investigation; Massachusetts Democratic Sens. Ted Kennedy and John Kerry have both pressed the Pentagon for a swift and open investigation.

And the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gays and lesbians in the military, also has called for a thorough investigation.

"Though we have no evidence, at the moment, to conclude that this was a hate-motivated crime, numerous questions demand that military leaders must search for the answers," an SLDN release read. "Ciara was, by all accounts, a stellar National Guardsman who loved serving our country. Anything but a full and thorough investigation into her untimely death would be a disservice to her memory."

On Friday, officials at Bagram referred all questions about the case to the Criminal Investigation Command, or CID. CID officials do not comment on ongoing investigations.

Durkin had deployed to Afghanistan in February and was due to rotate home in January, family members said. A funeral for Durkin is scheduled for Saturday in Massachusetts, family members said.

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