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Five Service Members Injured in 'Friendly Fire' Incident

By Sgt. 1st Class Kathleen T. Rhem, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2001 – Five service members were injured Nov. 25 during a "friendly fire" incident during a prison riot near Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan. None of the injuries was life threatening, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said today.

Three of the injured were evacuated to Khanabad, a former Soviet airbase from which U.S. soldiers are operating, near the town of Qarshi in Uzbekistan. The other two service members suffered minor injuries and remained in country. Military officials haven't yet identified the injured service members and had no updates on their conditions.

Clarke said a Joint Direct Attack Munition missed its target and fell near U.S. forces operating in the area. Taliban prisoners have been rioting for two days in the northern Afghan city. Northern Alliance officials requested the American air strikes to quell the rioting.

Clarke said U.S. forces on the ground called in the strikes. She declined to say where the stray missile came from or what its target was. "We don't have much information at this time, but there were Taliban prisoners with some weapons firing on the Northern Alliance," Clarke said.

She denied media reports that a U.S. soldier was killed during the rioting. "U.S. military (are) all accounted for," Clarke said.

Clarke also confirmed that about 300 Marines landed Nov. 25 in Afghanistan at an airfield southwest of Kandahar. The Marines came from aboard the USS Peleliu and the USS Bataan, which have been operating in the Arabian Sea.

"(They) went in on choppers and continue to go in on C- 130s," she said. There are currently about 500 Marines in the area, she said, but noted the number on the ground will rise to "a little bit north of 1,000" over the "next couple days."

Clarke refuted reports the Leathernecks are there to hunt down Osama bin Laden. She said they are there to establish a forward operating base and "to generally apply pressure to the Taliban and the Al Qaeda."

Clarke couldn't say how long American forces might be in the area, only stating that it wouldn't be permanent. "It is not our intent for people or U.S. resources to be there for any length of time longer than is absolutely necessary," she said.

(Editors Note: An update to this story can be viewed at “All 5 Injured Troops Evacuated to Uzbekistan, then Germany.”)


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