Two Marines from Camp Pendleton may have been killed by Afghan soldier
The two Marines from Camp Pendleton whose deaths in Afghanistan were announced Saturday may have been killed by an Afghan soldier, the Marine Corps said Sunday.
"Initial reporting indicates that while conducting routine security post operations, shots were allegedly fired at the Marines by an Afghan National Army soldier, who then fled the scene," said a statement released by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan.
An investigation is underway by the Afghan National Security Forces and the International Security Assistance Force.
"We offer our deepest sympathies and want to ensure all know the sacrifices these Marines have made in our commitment to the safety and security of the Afghan people," said Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, the top Marine in Afghanistan.
The two Marines _ Lance Cpl. Brandon W. Pearson, 21, of Arvada, Colo., and Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Broehm, 22, of Flagstaff, Ariz., _ were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. They were killed Thursday.
The 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment has been assigned to the Sangin-Kajaki region of Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold. Twelve Marines from the battalion have been killed in the last month.
One of the primary tasks of the Marines is to prepare Afghan security forces to take responsibility for the region when U.S. forces depart.
"The allegations of this criminal act are not indicative of the quality and professionalism of Afghan soldiers whom we train, mentor and partner with," Mills said.
The Taliban has asserted that the Afghan soldier has defected to their ranks and is being protected.
Pearson's sister, Ashley, told the Denver Post that her brother "always said he would come home safe but just in case, before he left, he hung out a lot and tried to do as much as possible."
--Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Marines unload the casket with the remains of Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Credit: Associated Press