Canadian general to co-chair U.S. probe into mistaken bombing

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

TORONTO -- A Canadian general will co-chair a U.S. military investigation into the friendly fire incident that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, Canada's defense minister said Tuesday, as the funeral of one of the servicemen was broadcast live nationwide.

Eight soldiers were also injured when an American F-16 pilot on a night patrol apparently mistook the Canadians for enemy forces. The pilot thought he was acting in self-defense when he dropped a 500-pound bomb on them early Thursday, U.S. officials have said.

The Canadians were conducting a live-fire training exercise near the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

As co-chair, Brig. Gen. Marc Dumais will be able to ask questions of the U.S. pilot, said Canadian Defense Minister Art Eggleton. Dumais had originally been slated to be an observer in the U.S. investigation, but his status has been raised.

"He'll have full authority to ask questions, to be able to participate to the fullest extent. At the same time he'll be able to make recommendations," Eggleton said.

Eggleton said U.S. officials requested Dumais be co-chairman. U.S. officials have said the investigation will take from 30 to 60 days.

U.S. and Canadian investigators are expected to determine why the pilot did not know the Canadians were there. All allied troops operating in the Kandahar area are supposed to be aware of friendly forces.

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