Illinois soldier among 5 killed in friendly fire

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A family spokeswoman says a 19-year-old soldier from northern Illinois was among the five troops killed during a friendly-fire incident this week in Afghanistan.

Jennie Swartz tells The Associated Press on Tuesday that Army officials informed the family that Aaron Toppen was among those killed Monday. She says Army officials came to his mother's home in Mokena, about 30 miles southwest of Chicago, overnight.

Toppen's older sister, Amanda Gralewski, tells the Chicago Sun-Times her brother was a loving, funny outdoorsman. She says he was deployed in March, a month after their father died.

The troops were killed when a U.S. airstrike was called to help after a Taliban ambush. U.S. officials say it may have been one of the deadliest friendly-fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war.

An Afghan official said it happened in southern Zabul province.

A statement from NATO says the casualties happened during a "security operation" after the soldiers "came into contact with enemy sources." A senior police official said the coalition soldiers may have been killed when they called for close air support.

In 2002, four Canadian soldiers were killed when an American F-16 jet fighter dropped a bomb on a group near a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

Statement from Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby:

"Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen."

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