US bomber kills four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

An American fighter jet mistakenly dropped at least one laser-guided bomb on Canadian forces in Afghanistan during a training exercise today, killing at least four soldiers and injuring eight more.

An American fighter jet mistakenly dropped at least one laser-guided bomb on Canadian forces in Afghanistan during a training exercise today, killing at least four soldiers and injuring eight more.

An Air National Guard F-16 dropped one or two 500-pound bombs near Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold, according to Navy Commander Frank Merriman, spokesman for Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

"How this can happen is a mystery to us. Without a doubt, there was a misidentification," Canada's defence chief, Lt. Gen. Ray Henault, told reporters in Ottawa.

Canadian defence officials said their soldiers were on a nigh-ttime training exercise about 10 miles south of their Kandahar base when the bombing occurred at 1.55 am.

Gen.Henault said the area is recognized as a training area and the aircraft were using very strictly controlled routes.

Two of the wounded soldiers have life-threatening injuries, one has very serious injuries and five have serious injuries.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said President George Bush had called to offer his condolences and pledged to cooperate with a Canadian investigation. "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 have answered," Mr Chretien said in a statement.

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