SOFIA, Bulgaria — A Bulgarian soldier killed last week in Iraq was probably shot by coalition forces, the defense minister said Monday, and the president complained to the U.S. ambassador.
Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov told reporters that officials had "enough grounds to believe the death of Pvt. Gardi Gardev was caused by friendly fire."
Svinarov said the incident involving Gardev began Friday when a Bulgarian patrol was approached by a civilian Iraqi car. The vehicle did not stop after the patrol gave a signal, and the servicemen fired warning shots into the air.
Shortly after the shots were fired, the patrol "became the target of massive fire from the west," Svinarov said. A U.S. Army communications site was about 150 yards away in the direction the fire came from, Svinarov said.
Initial reports said Gardev had been killed in a shootout with insurgents near the central Iraqi city of Diwaniya.
President Georgi Parvanov summoned U.S. Ambassador James Pardew on Monday and complained of a lack of coordination among coalition troops in Iraq, his press office said.
Parvanov said that Bulgaria would investigate the incident and punish those responsible and that he hoped the U.S. would act similarly.
Tech. Sgt. Patrick Murphy, a U.S. military spokesman, said the commanding general of the central-south coalition division had appointed a special commission to investigate.
Svinarov said the Bulgarian army's chief of staff, Gen. Nikola Kolev, had asked U.S. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for an inquiry.
Gardev was the eighth Bulgarian to be killed in Iraq.