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Justice Department investigating the deaths and kidnappings of Americans in the Hamas attack

Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke with reporters during a news conference at the Department of Justice, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Washington.Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department is investigating the deaths and kidnappings of Americans during the Hamas attack against Israel on Oct. 7, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Wednesday.

Garland's comments came as he announced a war-crimes case filed against four Russian soldiers accused of torturing an American during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The charges are the first filed under a nearly 30-year-old law that allows U.S. prosecutors to charge people over the inhumane treatment of Americans during war.

“Hamas murdered more than 30 Americans and kidnapped more" during the attack, Garland said. "We are investigating those heinous crimes and we will hold those people accountable.”

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Hamas and other militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took captive some 240 men, women and children in the attack. Two months of Israeli bombardment and ground assaults have killed more than 16,200 people in Gaza — most of them women and children — and wounded more than 42,000, the territory’s Health Ministry said late Tuesday.