NATION : Blast Kills Two Israeli Soldiers at U.S. Artillery Testing Facility

From Times Wire Services

An explosion during an artillery test killed two Israeli soldiers and injured two others at the Yuma Army Proving Ground, authorities said today.

An Israeli team was conducting firing tests of an Israeli-modified M-109 howitzer at the desert facility when the accident occurred Monday afternoon, Army Capt. Stephen McGeorge said.

"The actual projectile or bomb did not explode," he said. "It was the propelling charge that went off. We don't know why it did."

The injured were taken to Yuma Regional Medical Center. The Israeli army said in a statement issued in Jerusalem that the two soldiers were not seriously hurt.

It is not uncommon for countries buying equipment from U.S. contractors to first test artillery at U.S. facilities. The accident involved an artillery piece being jointly produced by the United States and Israel, the Israeli army said.

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