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BAGHDAD - A United States soldier serving in Iraq was convicted of "negligent homicide" after accidentally killing a comrade while unloading his pistol, the military said Tuesday.

Specialist Daniel Turner of the 16th Military Police Brigade was found guilty Tuesday at a general court martial at Camp Victory outside Baghdad, demoted to private, discharged and jailed for 15 months without pay.

"In the early morning hours of July 20, 2006, Turner shot and killed a fellow soldier while clearing his M9 pistol," a statement said.

"Turner was culpably negligent in failing to ensure his weapon was safe and in failing to ensure he safely cleared his weapon," it added.

There are around 140,000 American soldiers currently deployed in Iraq, which is in the grip of a sectarian civil war and a violent insurgency against the US-backed government.

02/27/2007 21:23 GMT

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