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Errant U.S. Bomb Kills 4 Canadians

April 18, 2002|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — An American fighter jet accidentally dropped at least one laser-guided bomb on Canadian forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday night. Canadian officials said four soldiers were killed and eight were injured.

The U.S. Central Command confirmed that there were dead and injured but said it didn't know how many.

Navy Cmdr. Frank Merriman, spokesman for the Central Command in Tampa, Fla., said an Air National Guard F-16 dropped one or two 500-pound bombs near Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold in the country's south.

A Canadian Defense Department official said the Canadians were on an exercise about 10 miles south of their Kandahar base when the bomb or bombs were dropped.

Six soldiers, including one who was seriously injured, will be evacuated to an American medical facility. Two other soldiers suffered minor injuries.

Neither U.S. nor Canadian officials had information about what caused the error.

"How this can happen is a mystery to us. Without a doubt, there was a misidentification," Canada's defense chief, Lt. Gen. Ray Henault, told reporters in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said President Bush had called to offer his condolences and pledged to cooperate with a Canadian investigation.

"As to the circumstances of what appears to have been a terrible accident, clearly there are many questions that the families, and all Canadians, expect to be answered," Chretien said in a statement.

More than 700 Canadian soldiers are deployed in Afghanistan, operating out of Kandahar. Until now, no Canadian casualties had been reported.

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