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Pvt Sec. Contractors May Have Killed US Marine in Afghan

Pentagon confirms local Marine's death being investigated

Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Birchfield

Photo Provided

Story Created: Mar 3, 2010 at 12:42 PM EST

Story Updated: Mar 3, 2010 at 7:44 PM EST

WESTVILLE (AP) - The U.S. military is investigating whether private security guards hired to guard Marines serving in Afghanistan may have killed an Indiana Marine last month.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell confirmed Wednesday that an investigation is under way into the Feb. 19 death of 24-year-old Lance Cpl. Joshua Birchfield of Westville.

Morrell did not immediately respond to questions about the details of the investigation.

WLS-TV in Chicago reported that Birchfield's fellow Marines say the guards were Afghans and were high on opium when Birchfield was fatally shot in Helmand province.

Maj. Carl Redding of the Marine Corps confirmed the investigation but referred additional questions to Marine Corps officials in Afghanistan.

Morrell told the station that seven contracted security guards were detained after the incident, and that investigators confiscated guns and opium from the guards' compound.

No word if those guards are still in custody.

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