U.S. investigates friendly fire deaths of 3 soldiers
(CNN) -- The U.S. military is investigating the deaths of three U.S. Special Operations soldiers, killed Wednesday when a satellite-guided U.S. bomb missed its target near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The explosion also wounded 20 U.S. soldiers. Five members of opposition forces -- allies fighting with U.S. Special Forces -- were killed and several others wounded in the bombing, said Victoria Clarke, a Pentagon spokeswoman.
Rear. Adm. John Stufflebeem, a Pentagon spokesman, said a B-52 bomber dropped the 2,000-pound bomb while providing close air support for ground forces who were coming under mortar fire from Taliban positions.
Defense officials theorized the wrong coordinates were sent, wrong coordinates were entered on the plane or the system malfunctioned.
"A very smart weapon, a good weapon might work 85 to 90 percent of the time. The rest of the time it doesn't work right. Now that's a very good percentage," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. "But it means that there is one out of 10 that is not going to do what it was intended to do."
President Bush offered his condolences to the families affected by the accident.
The dead Americans were all senior enlisted men with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, "Green Berets," based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The three were identified as Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39; Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Henry Petithory, 32; Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28.
Sources reported intense fighting Wednesday in Kandahar -- the largest remaining Taliban stronghold. Ethnic Pashtun fighters were pressing on, and sources said the airport is partially under the control of Pashtun fighters.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, anti-Taliban mujahedeen fighters were engaged with a large pocket of al Qaeda fighters Wednesday at the foothills of the Tora Bora mountains in the eastern part of the country, where suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden might be hiding, their commander said.
U.S. officials in Washington said Wednesday they have received an unconfirmed intelligence report suggesting one of bin Laden's older sons may have been killed in a recent airstrike. Experts say bin Laden has at least 23 children, at least 14 of whom are sons.
Drug seizures at U.S. borders and entry points increased by 29 percent in October over that month in 2000, federal officials said Wednesday, attributing the rise to stepped-up enforcement after the September 11 attacks. (Full story)
The sister of the Navy reservist who piloted the plane terrorists crashed into the Pentagon September 11 angrily demanded Wednesday that her brother get his own grave in Arlington National Cemetery because he was a victim of "what his own president is calling an act of war in a combat zone." The Army, which overseas the cemetery, had offered to allow him to be buried with his father, and share his tombstone. (Full story)
The U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday the number of Afghan refugees heading home from Iran has exceeded 24,000 people since the Taliban's hold on the western Afghan city of Herat was broken last month. (Full story)
Scientists at Fort Detrick, a germ warfare research lab in Maryland, Wednesday opened the envelope containing an anthrax-contaminated letter addressed to Sen. Patrick Leahy and have begun the painstaking process of removing the anthrax inside, the FBI said. Experts have spent the past three weeks deciding what would be the best way to open the letter. (Full story)
Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters Wednesday President Bush has not made any decisions about the next phase in the war against terror despite longstanding concerns about Iraq. Powell made the remarks in Turkey, the second stop on his 10-nation tour of Europe and Central Asia. (Full story)
The first federal payments have been approved for 150 families of firefighters, police and emergency medical technicians killed at the World Trade Center, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. Each family will receive a one-time, tax-exempt award of $250,000.
A group of women who lost their husbands in the September 11 terrorist attacks testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday that they are in "financial limbo" and urged the House of Representatives to pass a tax relief measure. (Full story)
The United States has reversed sanctions it imposed on India for conducting nuclear tests in 1998. The move resulted from strengthened bilateral cooperation to combat terrorism. U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith said Washington has agreed to resume sales of arms to India and step up military cooperation following two days of talks in New Delhi with Indian officials. (Full story)
An estimated 1 million people who work in secure areas of the nation's airports will undergo fingerprint-based criminal background checks under a Federal Aviation Administration regulation going into effect this week. The FAA rule will apply to baggage screeners and employees who work in secure areas of airports, including everyone from aircraft mechanics to employees of newsstands and coffee kiosks. (Full story)
President Bush called on countries around the world to join the United States in paying tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks on the three-month observance, December 11, by playing their respective country's national anthems at 8:46 a.m. ET, the exact time the first hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center.
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