A light-armored vehicle of the Ground Self-Defense Force overturned near the Tallil air base in southern Iraq, injuring three GSDF soldiers in an apparent accident, Defense Agency officials in Tokyo said Monday evening.

They are the first injuries during the GSDF’s humanitarian reconstruction mission apart from minor mishaps inside the camp in Samawah since the operation started in January 2004.

The lives of the three were not in danger, and they remained conscious, the officials said.

The cause of the accident was not immediately known, but it was not caused by an attack, they said.

One of the three suffered broken bone in his left shoulder, the officials said.

They were being treated at the air base, 100 km southeast of Samawah. The base is used by the U.S.-led coalition forces.

Air Self-Defense Force transport airplanes have been engaged in airlift services for the coalition forces between the Tallil base and a U.S. base in Kuwait.

The three were heading to the air base to pick up GSDF personnel.

The 600 troops in Samawah have started preparations for withdrawing from Iraq following the government’s announcement last week they will be pulled out by the end of next month.

More troops on way

The Associated Press

About 100 more troops will be sent to southern Iraq to help the Ground Self-Defense Force pack up and leave the country, ending its most dangerous overseas mission since World War II, the Defense Agency said Monday.

The withdrawal began Sunday when a GSDF contingent crossed the border from southern Iraq into Kuwait.

The troops were deployed on a humanitarian mission in the southern Iraq city of Samawah, starting in 2004.

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