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Netherlands starts probe into friendly fire deaths in Afghanistan
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08:10, January 15, 2008

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The Dutch Public Prosecution Service has ordered an investigation by the Dutch Royal Military Police into Saturday's friendly fire incident in Afghanistan in which two Dutch soldiers were killed, Radio Netherlands reported Monday.

The report said Dutch Chief of Staff Dick Berlijn, the commander of Dutch forces in Afghanistan, had begun his own investigation into the incident.

The incident occurred Saturday in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan. The Dutch troops came under fire near their base in Deh Rawod, a stronghold of Taliban militants, after they found a weapons cache during house-to-house searches.

The two soldiers were killed as they rushed to the rescue of a fellow soldier who was seriously injured during clashes with Taliban insurgents.

It was initially believed they were killed by Taliban fire, but reports later said they were probably killed by Dutch troops.

In a separate incident later that night, Dutch troops killed two Afghan soldiers, mistaking them for Taliban insurgents as they were not wearing their uniforms.

Berlijn, who presented the details of the incidents late Sunday, blamed them on "poor weather conditions, overall darkness and chaotic circumstances," Radio Netherlands reported.

So far, 14 Dutch military personnel have been killed since the Netherlands joined the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan in August 2006.

The Netherlands has more than 1,600 troops in Afghanistan as part of the 37,000-strong ISAF. In November the country decided to extend its Afghanistan deployment until the end of 2010.


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