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U.S. Patriot missile accidentally hit Qatar farm but no one was injured, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Patriot missile was accidentally fired from a military base in Qatar, hitting a nearby farm, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said the missile landed in an "unpopulated farm area" and no one was injured.

The incident — which occurred Monday night in Washington time, Tuesday in Qatar — is being investigated, Whitman said.

"It's been described as an accidental discharge; beyond that it's just not clear at this time" what happened, Whitman said.

The official Qatar News Agency, quoting an unnamed official with Qatar Armed Forces General Command, said the missile was erroneously fired from Camp As Sayliyah, located on the outskirts of Doha and caused no damage.

The Patriot is an air-defense guided-missile system and the military is secretive about where it bases the Patriot batteries.

It was originally designed to shoot down aircraft, but gained attention in the first Gulf War when it was used against Iraqi Scud missiles. Later, there was criticism of its effectiveness and technical improvements were made.

A number of problems with Patriot missile defenses and related systems contributed to three friendly fire deaths during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon has said.

Patriot batteries misidentified and shot down an American and a British fighter in separate incidents, leaving three air crew members dead. A Patriot system also mistakenly tracked another U.S. fighter, which bombed a radar in response. The incidents took place in March and April 2003.