NBC News and news services
updated 6/10/2005 6:14:36 PM ET 2005-06-10T22:14:36

The military has opened a criminal probe to determine if two Army officers who were killed earlier in the week in Tikrit died in a "fragging incident," the intentional killing of a friendly soldier by another soldier in a wartime setting.

Capt. Phillip T. Esposito and 1st Lt. Louis E. Allen were killed Tuesday evening in what the military first believed was an “indirect fire” attack on Forward Operating Base Danger, according to a statement issued by the military on Friday. An indirect fire attack involves enemy artillery or mortar rounds from a location some distance away.

“The initial investigation by responders and military police indicated that a mortar round struck the window on the side of the building where Esposito and Allen were located at the time,” the statement said.

“Upon further examination of the scene by explosive ordnance personnel, it was determined the blast pattern was inconsistent with a mortar attack.”

Explosives experts said the blasts were caused by some other explosive devices, possibly improvised explosive devices or grenades.

One U.S. military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators were looking into the possibility that the case was a fragging incident since the company commander and the operations officer were killed.

Military officials in Iraq say there are no suspects in custody and it's not yet known if the two Army officers were intended targets in the blast.

Esposito and Allen were assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York Army National Guard.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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