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U.S. Probes Possible ‘Friendly Fire’ Death

July 1, 2006

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ The U.S. military on Saturday said it was investigating the death of a soldier in eastern Afghanistan as a possible ``friendly fire incident.″

The Defense Department said Pfc. Justin R. Davis, 19, of Gaithersburg, Md., died on June 25 in eastern Kunar province when he came in contact with indirect fire while on patrol during combat operations.

``The circumstances of the soldier’s death are under investigation as a possible friendly fire incident,″ the statement said.

In Afghanistan, the U.S.-led coalition released a statement saying an investigation into the incident is under way.

``We are looking into Pfc. Davis’ death to determine what happened. No final determination has been made and we will not release any information relating to the investigation till it is complete,″ the statement said.

Davis had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

Coalition troops have been operating in eastern Afghanistan to battle insurgents active along the Pakistan border.

According to U.S. Army data earlier this year, 17 soldiers have died from friendly fire in the past four years _ 10 in Iraq and seven in Afghanistan. They occurred in 11 separate incidents.

The most famous case was the 2004 death of former NFL player Pat Tillman, an Army Ranger and corporal, who died during a gunbattle near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. That case triggered a criminal investigation that is still pending.

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