Identity Crisis

1 minute read

Just a week after U.S. troops in Iraq killed Italian agent Nicola Calipari and wounded freed hostage Giuliana Sgrena, a similar incident emerged involving another U.S. ally: Bulgaria.

On the evening that the Italians were shot, U.S. troops near the Iraqi city of Diwaniya killed a Bulgarian soldier, Gurdi Gurdev, whose patrol had stopped 150 m short of a U.S. checkpoint without realizing it was there. The Bulgarians, according to a letter posted on the Web by a “combat buddy” of the deceased, fired warning shots at a civilian Iraqi vehicle that was approaching them. “The Americans didn’t know who fired the shots or why and so opened fire at the Bulgarian patrol,” the letter said.

In Bulgaria, the incident sparked new calls for the country to withdraw its 470 troops. Criticism intensified after the government failed to reveal that the U.S. was behind the shooting until the anonymous letter circulated on the Internet. The U.S. military said it was still investigating; Bulgaria’s parliament is scheduled to vote on its mission within the next month.

Meanwhile, Poland announced that it would be cutting its own force in June to 1,500 troops, down from an original 2,500.

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