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Young soldier 'abused almost daily'

A teenage US Army private who committed suicide weeks after being sent to Afghanistan was mistreated by his comrades on an almost daily basis, his family and community representatives have claimed.

Daniel Chen's parents and other members of Manhattan's Chinese community held a news conference on Thursday to disclose what they had learned from army investigators at a meeting the day before.

"Almost immediately after he arrived, Danny was required to do exercises which quickly within a few days crossed into abuse," said Elizabeth OuYang, a community activist representing his parents.

The family was briefed on the results of Regional Command South's administrative investigation into Pte Chen's death, army spokesman George Wright said. A criminal investigation is under way.

The army did not disclose details of what its investigators told the family.

Ms OuYang said investigators had told the family that 19-year-old Pte Chen was subjected to excessive sit-ups, push-ups, runs and sprints carrying sandbags, among other things, and rocks were thrown at him to simulate artillery.

She said the investigators reported he was also the target of racial slurs and forced to work additional details.

When the soldiers were putting up a tent, Pte Chen was forced to wear a construction hat and give instructions in Chinese, even though none of the other soldiers spoke the language, she said.

On October 3, Pte Chen was found dead in a guardhouse in Afghanistan with what the army said was apparently a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had arrived in Afghanistan in August.

Eight soldiers are facing charges ranging from dereliction of duty to involuntary manslaughter in connection to Pte Chen's death. The eight soldiers are part of an infantry regiment based in Fort Wainright, Alaska.

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