Bombing Accident Kills Four Canadian Soldiers in Afghanistan
By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2002 Four Canadian soldiers were killed early today and eight others seriously injured when an U.S. fighter jet dropped at least one 500-pound bomb on their position near Kandahar, Afghanistan, Canadian defense officials said.
Details are sketchy, but U.S. Central Command officials confirmed a U.S. Air National Guard F-16 fighter dropped "one or two" laser-guided bombs on the Canadians at about 1:55 a.m. Afghan time. Command officials didn't speculate as to the cause of the accident, but said an investigation will be conducted.
The Canadian troops were conducting a live-fire night exercise near Kandahar. "Without a doubt there was a misidentification of the Canadians and what they were doing on the ground," Gen. Ray Henault, chief of the Canadian Defense Staff, told reporters in Ottawa.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued a statement today expressing his "deep regret and sadness over the tragic accident." He said he assured his Canadian counterpart of Central Command's full cooperation in the investigation.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said President Bush called him to offer condolences and also to assure U.S. cooperation in the investigation.
"My first thoughts on this sad news are, of course, with the families of our soldiers who have been killed or wounded. Better than any of us, they understand the risks that are an unavoidable aspect of military life," Chretien said in a prepared statement. "But no amount of awareness or preparation can ever truly cushion such an awful blow."