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Iraq Transition

Bulgaria: U.S. fire killed soldier

• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
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U.S. Army

SOFIA, Bulgaria (CNN) -- A Bulgarian soldier in Iraq was killed last week by "friendly fire" from U.S. forces, according to the Bulgarian minister of defense.

"The investigation results and the information we have as now give us enough reason to believe that that tragic death of Jr. Sgt. (Gardi) Gardev is a result of a friendly fire," Nikolay Svinarov said Monday.

He said Gardev died when his patrol, which had fired warning shots to stop an Iraqi civilian car, received heavy fire from the direction of a U.S. Army communications facility 150 meters (165 yards) away.

The incident took place about 7:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m. ET) Friday on the Tampa road, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Diwaniya, which is about 160 km southeast of Baghdad.

Sviranov said his chief of staff, Gen. Nikola Kolev, had sent a letter to his American counterpart, Gen. Richard Myers, requesting a full investigation "aimed at clarifying all details and avoiding such incidents for the future."

"I have insisted that all coalition partners take emergency measures to improve the coordination at all levels," he said.

A little over an hour after the Bulgarian soldier was killed, U.S. forces opened fire on a car carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena -- just freed after a month of captivity -- killing the Italian intelligence agent who helped negotiate her release.

The U.S. military says the car was speeding and failed to heed warnings; Sgrena disputes that version and says the car was not speeding and forces opened fire without warning.

U.S. President George W. Bush has promised an investigation will determine the facts in the journalist's case.

Bulgaria has a 460-strong infantry battalion in the Iraqi city of Diwaniya, serving under Polish command. The troops' current mandate ends in mid-2005.

Gardev was the eighth Bulgarian to be killed in Iraq, The Associated Press reported. His remains were flown back to Sofia Sunday.

His funeral will be held on Tuesday in his home village of Dolno Sahrane, in central Bulgaria, AP said.

Copyright 2005 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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