Marines bury Afghan fighter killed in 'friendly fire'

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The Independent Online

US Marines buried an Afghan anti-Taliban fighter with military honors today after he was killed by "friendly fire".

He was one of six anti-Taliban fighters killed on Wednesday when an Air Force B-52 dropped a one-ton satellite-guided bomb that also killed three Green Berets soldiers. Twenty Americans and 18 Afghans were wounded.

After the bombing, the fighter died en route to the Marines forward operating base, known as Camp Rhino, and his body was flown to the USS Peleliu for storage until the burial ceremony could be arranged.

His family could not be contacted, said Captain Stewart Upton of the Marines. "We would have flown the family here for the service if we could have located them," he said.

Corporal Anis Trabelsi, a Muslim from Baltimore with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, performed the graveside service in Arabic, and the body was placed in the grave according to Muslim custom, with his head facing Mecca.

A Marines intelligence officer, Major Beau Higgins, a Roman Catholic lay preacher, addressed the group.

"This is not a man we knew, or a man we served with, but we are tied together by a common goal ? freedom," he said. "This warrior paid the ultimate sacrifice in pursuing his dreams. ... It is now up to us to ensure that his life is not lost in vain."

The Marines said they would give the fighter's family a map of coordinates of the burial spot at the base of a hill in Camp Rhino and would include a grave registration form and the gun casings from the 21-gun salute to show them he was given military honors.

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