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Afghan battle probed for possible "friendly fire"

Written by: Staff

KABUL, Apr 4 (Reuters) An investigation has been launched into an Afghan battle last week in which an American and Canadian soldier were killed and five men wounded to determine if any were hit by their own side, the US military said today.

A joint US, Canadian and Afghan team will investigate the March 29 battle in the southern province of Helmand which began when a large group of Taliban insurgents attacked a foreign military base.

''The investigation will determine all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, including whether any of the casualties may have resulted from friendly fire,'' the US military said in a statement.

As well as the two deaths, a US soldier, three Canadians and an Afghan soldier were wounded in the battle.

The US military gave no further details of the investigation.

The battle on Wednesday last week was the biggest in Afghanistan for months and came on the same day the Taliban announced they had launched a spring offensive in their campaign to oust foreign troops.

US-led forces, backed by aircraft, killed 32 of the Taliban attackers, the US military said.

Four Canadian soldiers were killed and eight wounded in a friendly-fire incident near the southern town of Kandahar in 2002 when a US F-16 fighter mistakenly bombed the Canadians while they were on a training exercise.

The United States has more than 19,000 troops in Afghanistan battling Taliban insurgents in the south and east.

Canada has 2,300 soldiers in Kandahar where it commands a multinational task force.


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