France probes possible friendly fire in Afghan incident

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France has opened an investigation into whether three French soldiers wounded in Afghanistan may have been the victims of friendly fire, a military spokesman in Paris said on Tuesday.

"It is possible that the three wounded were the victims of friendly fire" in the incident on Monday, said Colonel Thierry Burkhard, spokesman for the headquarters of the French armed forces.

"There is suspicion that there might have been friendly fire, but it is not certain," he added.

The incident was separate from another a few hours earlier on Monday in the same area, northeast of Kabul, in which two French troops were killed by insurgent fire, bringing the French death toll in the Afghan conflict to 47.

In the latter instance, Burkhard said, "there is no doubting the fact that the shots came from insurgents".

The three wounded soldiers returned to Paris overnight Monday, with one of them reported to be in serious condition.

Most of France's 3,500 soldiers inside Afghanistan are based in districts around the Afghan capital Kabul. They are part of a NATO-led multinational force fighting the Taliban.

© 2010 AFP

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