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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Soldier Dies in Haiti Exchange of Fire

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- An American soldier has died after an exchange of gunfire with the driver of a van that drove past a tollbooth without stopping, the first serviceman to be killed during the four-month U.S. occupation of Haiti.

A second soldier was wounded and a Haitian civilian was killed in the incident, which took place in Gonaives, a town about 170 kilometers from the Haitian capital.

The soldier was identified by the Pentagon as Sergeant 1st Class Gregory Cardott, 36, of San Mateo, California.

Three U.S. soldiers involved in the international peacekeeping effort, two in Haiti and one during training in Puerto Rico, have committed suicide since the occupation began Sept. 19. But none had been killed until Thursday.

The attack was only the second on an American soldier during the operation. A soldier was shot in the southern town of Les Cayes by an unidentified assailant shortly after the Americans arrived.

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in a statement released late Thursday, offered his condolences to U.S. President Bill Clinton, to the family of the dead soldier and to his comrades and called the death a "deplorable act of violence."

The military Joint Information Bureau said Third Special Forces Group soldiers were observing tollbooth operations when two Haitians in a small white truck drove past the tollbooth, or checkpoint.

The U.S. military called it a tollbooth manned by Haitians and monitored by U.S. forces but the U.S. embassy called it a checkpoint manned by Haitians.

Independent Radio Metropole, citing unidentified sources in Gonaives, said the Haitian who opened fire was a former Haitian military officer from the town of Cap-Haitien, but a U.S. military spokeswoman could not confirm the news.