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Pentagon bans 60mm mortar round after Marine deaths

A mortar shell explosion killed seven Marines and injured seven more during mountain warfare training in Nevada's high desert, prompting the Pentagon to immediately halt the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said Tuesday. The explosion occurred Monday night at the Hawthorne Army Depot, a sprawling facility used by troops heading overseas, during an exercise involving the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Several Marines from the unit were injured in the blast, authorities said. The Marines were practicing firing mortars, reports CBS affiliate KTVN-TV in Reno, when one of the rounds exploded while still inside the tube. Brig. Gen. Jim Lukeman said investigators were trying to determine the cause of the malfunction. The Pentagon expanded a temporary ban to prohibit the military from firing any 60 mm mortar rounds until the results of the investigation. The Marine Corps said Tuesday a "blanket suspension" of

Crash kills 5 Americans: Helicopter Crashed

Five U.S. military personnel were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Tuesday, although there were no immediate details about the cause of the crash. The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan said the crash occurred on Monday. It happened on the same day that two U.S. troops and five Afghan police and soldiers were killed by a person in an Afghan military uniform in the restive east of the country. "The cause of the crash is under investigation, however initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the incident," ISAF said in a statement. The Pentagon said all five killed in the crash were Americans. New Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel left Afghanistan earlier on Monday after a difficult first trip to Kabul. His visit was marred by a suicide bomb attack near where he was holding a meeting, and differences with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who accused the United States of col

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