US Marines Injured in East African Accident

By Julius Mokaya | July 7, 2008 | 8:08 PM EDT

Nairobi, Kenya ( - Four United States Marines, on a joint military exercise in East Africa, were seriously injured when their army truck rammed into a trailer along Kenya's Indian Ocean coast.

The four were later airlifted from the accident scene aboard a US Marine helicopter and flown some 150 kilometers to Aga Khan hospital in Mombassa, the main Kenyan port about 500 kilometers south of Nairobi.

The soldiers are part of a multi-national training force dubbed "Natural Fire/Native Fury 2000," involving troops from the US and three East African nations: Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

The Marine officer in charge, identified only as Captain Thibodeaux, said the soldiers were injured while on their way to one of the training sites in a remote region of the coast.

Local police spokesman Polycap Etiang and a senior Kenyan foreign affairs official confirmed the accident.

Doctors at the hospital - which is owned by the Aga Khan - described the condition of two of the Marines as "serious" and the other two as "stable."

The press officer at the American Embassy in Nairobi, Chris Scharf, told some 3,000 Marines are participating in the multinational exercise that began more than a month ago.

Scharf described as regrettable an incident that occurred following the accident when local journalists were roughed up by some Marines after taking pictures of the injured soldiers.

The journalists were reportedly held for more than two hours while the Marines demanded that they expose or surrender their films. They were released when US Embassy officials intervened in the situation.