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Friendly fire kills five in Kuwait

By The Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001

WASHINGTON -- A U.S. Navy F/A-18 jet accidentally dropped a bomb on a group of military personnel at a bombing range in Kuwait on Monday, killing five people, including four Americans, Pentagon officials said.

Details were sketchy.

One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that in addition to the deaths, there were fewer than a dozen injured, the Associated Press reported. He said no civilians were involved.

President Bush, traveling in Panama City, Fla., opened a speech on his budget proposals and military spending with brief mention of the accident in Kuwait.

"I'm reminded today of how dangerous service can be. We lost some servicemen today in Kuwait in a training accident," Bush said. "I hope you'll join me in moment of silence for those soldiers and their families. God Bless."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman would say only that there had been a "training accident" and that there were an unspecified number of casualties.

Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said five had been killed, including four Americans, according to the Associated Press. The nationality of the fifth was not immediately known.

The accident happened at the Udairi bombing range in Kuwait.

An official said the Navy plane, which was flying from the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, dropped what was believed to be a 500-pound gravity bomb. The circumstances of the accident were not immediately clear.

The United States military has operated regularly from airfields and an Army base in Kuwait since the 1991 Gulf War, when a U.S.-led coalition expelled the occupying Iraqi army from the tiny Persian Gulf nation.

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