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Army finds Tillman probably killed by friendly fire

Former pro football player killed in Afghanistan

Cpl. Pat Tillman, shown in 2003.
Pat Tillman
U.S. Army

(CNN) -- U.S. Army Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former professional football player killed last month in Afghanistan, was probably killed by gunfire from his own unit during an intense firefight, the U.S. Army said Saturday.

"While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation indicated that Cpl. Tillman probably died of friendly fire while his unit was in combat with enemy forces," Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger Jr., of the Army's Special Operations Command ,said at a news conference at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

"The results of this investigation in no way diminish the bravery and sacrifice of Cpl. Tillman," Kensinger said. "Cpl. Tillman was shot and killed while responding to enemy fire without regard to his personal safety."

Tillman, who walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals two years ago to serve in the military, was posthumously awarded a Silver Star on April 30.

"There is an inherent danger of confusion in any firefight particularly when a unit is ambushed, especially under difficult light and terrain environment," Kensinger said.

Tillman, 27, was shot and killed April 22 during a ground convoy assault not far from Khowst, Afghanistan, near the eastern border with Pakistan. Two other coalition soldiers were wounded in the ambush and an Afghan militia force soldier was killed.

The firefight in which Tillman died began about 7:30 p.m. when 10 to 20 ambushers attacked the convoy with mortars and small arms. Tillman's team had already passed the point of attack, but turned back to help, diving into an intensive battle that lasted about 20 minutes.

A statement announcing the Silver Star said that Tillman directed his team to return fire against the fighters, who had attacked from higher ground.

It said that because of Tillman's leadership and his team's efforts, the trail section of the convoy "was able to maneuver through the ambush to positions of safety without a single casualty."

Tillman was a member of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Washington.

His brother, Kevin, trained with him and served in the same unit.

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