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N.C., Iraqi soldiers discover 24 emaciated orphans in Baghdad

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BAGHDAD (AP) -- Military officials say paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne and Iraqi soldiers found 24 severely malnourished children in a Baghdad orphanage -- some tied to their beds and too weak to stand.

Iraq's Labor and Social Affairs Minister criticized publicity surrounding the boys and says news reports about the case were inaccurate. He says the facts are distorted and the reports couldn't be further from the truth.

The minister says the institution in which the boys were housed had saved them from a certain death on the streets of Baghdad. He says all the boys were severely handicapped and abandoned by their families.

The US military says they found all boys between the ages of three and 15, many of them naked in a dark room with no windows. Food and clothing were found in a nearby storeroom.

A statement by the military says three women who claimed to be caretakers, the orphanage director and a guard, were in the building when the soldiers arrived June tenth.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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