Two probes into Afghan friendly fire deaths

Investigations have been launched into the death of two Dutch and two Afghan soldiers in a friendly fire incident during a surveillance operation in the southern province of Uruzgan on Saturday.

One, on behalf of the public prosecution department, is being carried out by the military police force, the other comes from the defence ministry itself.
The bodies of corporal Aldert Poortema (22) and private first class Wesley Schol (20) will be flown home as soon as possible but this will depend on the weather, defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop told MPs on Monday.
Poortema and Schol, together with the Afghans Abdal Qodos and Boman Haider, were shot dead during a reconnaisance operation in the area of Deh Rawod.
According to army chief Dick Berlijn, they were hit by friendly fire because of the darkness, the bad weather and the confused situation on the ground. The deaths bring the total number of Dutch soldiers killed in Afghanistan to 14.
Military unions said they were shocked by events. ‘This is every soldiers’ nightmare,’ said Jean Debie, chairman of the VBM/NOV union. But the union criticised Berlijn for using his statement on the deaths to also comment on the successes being booked in the region as being inappropriate.
The ACOM union told news agency ANP that the investigations should also look at the lack of communications equipment and why air cover was not used.

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