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3 incidents may be friendly fire

©Associated Press

April 4, 2003

WASHINGTON -- American forces in Iraq had four deadly accidents, three of which might have been caused by friendly fire, officials said Thursday.

Defense Department officials said they were looking into the possibility that a U.S. fighter jet was downed by an American Patriot missile and a second jet fired on Army ground forces.

Statements on the two accidents followed word that an Army Black Hawk helicopter went down over central Iraq on Wednesday, killing six soldiers, injuring four and leaving one missing. Officials said Thursday it was unclear what brought down the helicopter, which was hovering above a firefight between American and Iraqi forces.

On Thursday, a U.S. Army soldier was killed by American troops as he was investigating a destroyed Iraqi tank, U.S. Central Command reported. The soldier, mistaken for an Iraqi, was killed at about 8:30 a.m. EST, Central Command said.

"There are portions of this battle that are enormously complex, and human beings are human beings," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. "And things are going to happen, and it's always been so and it will be so this time -- it's always sad and tragic and your heart breaks when people are killed or wounded by (it)."

All the cases were being investigated.

An operation was under way to find the pilot of a U.S. Navy F-18C Hornet downed over Iraq late Wednesday, Iraq time. It was flying a mission from the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier, and missile firings were reported at the time near where it was lost.

An Army soldier was killed and several were injured or missing after a possible friendly fire accident in which an F-15E Strike Eagle fired on ground forces. It happened Wednesday night near Karbala officials said.

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