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U.S. bombs kill Canadians

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thursday and eight injured when an American plane
bombed them in Afghanistan in what Canadian
authorities termed a tragic accident.

Defence Minister Art Eggleton called the deaths
"shocking." First reports said two soldiers had life-threatening wounds. However, Eggleton said in an interview Thursday that one soldier is in life-threatening condition and the others are stable.

Six of the eight injured are being transported to
Germany, he said. The soldiers, members of the 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, which is based in the Edmonton area, were the first Canadian personnel killed in a combat zone since the Korean War 50 years ago.

They were on a night live-fire exercise about 14
kilometres south of their base in Kandahar in an area set aside for such training.

Eggleton said there is risk in engaging the enemy, but it's a terrible shocking tragedy when this happens by accident. His thoughts go out to the friends and families of the troops, he said.

The minister said he was informed of the tragedy
Wednesday evening.

Defence Department officials contacted families of the victims throughout the night, the minister said, and he hoped they could release the names of those killed later Thursday. Eggleton added that the incident has not diminished Canada's resolve to be part of the fight against terrorism.

At a midnight news conference in Ottawa about six
hours after the incident, Gen. Ray Henault said he was "saddened quite frankly beyond words."

Brig.-Gen. Ivan Fenton, commander of land forces for Western Canada, said military officials fanned out across the country to inform the families of the tragedy.

It can be "quite a lengthy process. Families are
scattered far and wide," he said.

Henault offered condolences to the families and friends of the victims.

"We will not forget these brave soldiers."

The Canadians were hit by a U.S. National Guard F-16 fighter-bomber, which dropped one or two 250-kilogram, laser-guided bombs.

The accident occurred at 5:25 p.m. EDT, Wednesday -- 1:55 a.m. Thursday in Afghanistan.

"I'd like to convey to the families of the injured and dead soldiers our condolences and prayers," said Maj. Bryan Hilferty, a U.S. military spokesman at Bagram air base in Afghanistan.

Both Canadian and American flags at the edge of the runway at the U.S. base in Kandahar flew at half-mast.

About 900 Canadian soldiers from the Patricias are
serving on the U.S.-led anti-terror mission in

A company-sized unit of perhaps 120 to 150 was
involved in the exercise when the bomb fell.

The Edmonton Garrison base was quiet Wednesday
night, with military police standing guard at the

Thee streets to houses on the base were empty, but
lights shone from several living room windows as
military families gathered inside to mourn.

Details of the incident were sketchy, but Henault said the aircraft wasn't part of the exercise.

"It can only be misidentification that caused this to occur," he said.

Incidents such as this, sometimes called friendly fire and known to the military as "blue-on-blue" can happen for many reasons, military officers said. The pilot could have been off course because of a navigation error. Canadian tracer rounds -- bullets that leave a fiery trail -- might have ricocheted into the air and led the pilot to
believe it was enemy fire.

Henault would not speculate on possible causes.

He said some of the injured soldiers will be moved to a medical facility in Uzbekistan and others to Ramstein, Germany, depending on their condition. Two of the injured may remain in Kandahar for treatment.

The bodies of the dead soldiers will be brought home as soon as possible, Henault said.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien issued a late-night
statement saying his first thoughts are with the families of the soldiers and promising an investigation.

"Mere words are of small solace at times like these," the statement said. "Yet it is my hope that some comfort may be found in the knowledge that those who have been taken were serving their country with valour and gallantry in a great struggle for justice and freedom."

"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 answered," Chretien said.

He said U.S. President George W. Bush called him to offer condolences and complete co-operation in the investigation.

Henault said U.S. and Canadian authorities in Ottawa, at the Pentagon and at the American Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Fla. -- which runs the Afghanistan campaign -- are working on details of the investigation.

Fenton said his officials provide support for the families of the dead and wounded, and the fact the soldiers were hit by so-called friendly fire doesn't make the burden any different.

"I think for the family it really doesn't matter if you've lost a loved one or had a loved one hurt, it almost doesn't matter. But perhaps in the aftermath it will make it harder to get over because there will be the tendency to feel this was an unnecessary loss.

"But I hope all the families will understand that by serving as our soldiers do in a dangerous place like that, this is one of the things that happens as well. It's really no less painful, but it is just one extra burden, I have to admit.

"It just brings home the risks that our soldiers take everywhere they serve on behalf of their country."

Fenton said people will be assigned to the families to help them through the suffering.
post #2 of 8
post #3 of 8
I heard this and was so bummed......my condolences to the canadians on board........
post #4 of 8
Very sad. Unfortunately, accidents happen especially in war. Even with all the technology we have there is still human error.
post #5 of 8
It's tragic. God bless and heal the wounded.
post #6 of 8
Friendly fire and collateral damage still suck.

Condolences to the Canadians, we got no beef with you guys so it's a real shame . . .
post #7 of 8
That is awful!! I feel so bad for those people!!!
post #8 of 8
I am very supportive of the American military, but this is inexcusable! More people have been killed by "friendly fire" than by the enemy. The excuse the pilot used is ridiculous! He said it was self defense when he was completely out of range of ground fire. I hope they kick his butt out of the military and prosecute him. Things like this are not going to keep the world on our side. I would not blame the Canadians if they were really pissed at us. Condolences and prayers to the families of these people. I hope no one here had loved ones involved in this.
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