Autopsy shows abducted Palestinian teen was burned alive

CNN PHOTO

Jerusalem (CNN) — Mohammed Abu Khedair, a Palestinian teenager who was abducted and killed in Jerusalem this week, died from being burned alive and hit with a blunt object to the head, according to Palestinian General Prosecutor Mohammed al-Auwewy, sourcing the medical autopsy.

Al-Auwewy said the autopsy discovered traces of smoke inside the lungs of the 16-year-old , meaning that it was inhaled during the burning.

Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said his country is aggressively investigating the killing. “We’ll get to the bottom of it and catch those responsible,” he told CNN on Saturday.

In a separate incident, two videographers recorded men in the uniforms of Israeli security forces holding down and pummeling a teenager in a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem. Relatives say he is a U.S. citizen from Florida and a cousin of Abu Khedair.

The vicitim, Tariq Khdeir, 15, is a high school sophomore in Tampa, family members there said. He was visiting his Palestinian relatives in Jerusalem for the first time in over a decade when he was attacked and detained.

He was outside the home of his cousin, who was kidnapped and killed on Wednesday. That killing further stoked tensions between Palestinians and Israelis, which had already risen sharply after three Israeli teens were found dead in the West Bank.

The two videos, which were posted independently, say the beating occurred on Thursday.

CNN’s Ben Wedeman confirmed that the videos appeared to show an area near the home of the killed teen.

One neighbor shot a video of the beating and distributed it to family and a television station. Another video was shot from the other side of the street and posted to YouTube.

Khdeir’s parents and other relatives watched it and told CNN that it’s their teenage son. Relatives released pictures of the teenager with bruises and large swellings on his lips and nose.

The men delivered more than 20 blows to the youth over a period of two minutes. He did not appear to be struggling and police carried away his limp body afterward.

Both videos start after the incident began, and it’s not clear why Khdeir was attacked.

The U.S. State Department said it’s aware of the reports of Khdeir’s detention, but it cannot comment due to privacy considerations.

The teen was visiting Shuafat, a Jerusalem neighborhood, when the attack occurred, his aunt and uncle said. The relatives did not want to be named for fear of reprisals against the family in Shuafat.

An Israeli police spokesman confirmed security forces have been operating in Shuafat, but declined to provide additional details when asked about the beating videos and the American teen in custody.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the United States to help free the teen.

“It is the duty of American officials to intervene and secure the release of an American citizen who was so viciously attacked,” said Hassan Shibly, executive director of CAIR-Florida.

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