Senior American politicians and a group fighting for gay rights in the military have called for an investigation into the suspicious death of Specialist Ciara Durkin, a lesbian service member with the Massachusetts Army National Guard.

Specialist Durkin’s body was discovered on September 27th at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan with a gunshot wound to the head.

She was set to return from duty in January to marry her partner. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts.

Senator John Kerry has written to the Secretary of Defence asking him to assign staff to investigate the death.

Massachusetts Congressman William Delahunt met yesterday with Army officials and Senator Kennedy’s office has contacted Army Secretary Pete Geren to express concern about the murder.

The Servicemembers Legal Defence Network (SLDN) has demanded that Pentagon officials conduct a full and thorough investigation into the death.

“Specialist Durkin’s family deserves to know what happened,” said Aubrey Sarvis, the group’s executive director.

“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.

“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.”

The Boston Herald reported that prior to her death, Durkin told her family that she had “seen things that she didn’t like and she had raised concerns that had annoyed some people,” and that family members should demand an official investigation should something happen to her.

Durkin’s sister, Fiona Canavan, told the Boston Globe that, while evidence does not clearly point to a hate crime, the family has no evidence to the contrary, either.

“Ciara was a lesbian, and that’s bound to come out,” Canavan said.

“It is possible that someone over there found that out, and, you know, maybe they were very homophobic.”

Specialist Durkin will be buried on Saturday in her hometown of Quincy, Massachusetts.