US Airstrike Hits Afghan Security Forces, Not Taliban, Kills Friendly Troops

© AP Photo / Rahmat GulAfghan security forces. (File)
Afghan security forces. (File) - Sputnik International
A US airstrike meant to hit Taliban forces in the Azra district of Afghanistan’s Logar province instead led to the deaths of at least nine Afghan security forces, local officials said Tuesday.

The aerial bombardment also wounded some 14 officers, according to AFP, who reported that the strike came after Afghan officials were engaged in an "hours-long battle with insurgents overnight."

Per Nasrat Rahimi, spokesperson for the Afghan Interior Ministry, the incident took place after Afghan forces called on US officials for back up. However, communication was somehow mixed up, and US forces targeted the wrong location. "[Afghan officials] called in air support, but unfortunately foreign forces mistakenly bombed their position," Rahimi said.

US officials have confirmed that an airstrike took place, but have yet to say whether the operation amounted to killing friendly forces, Stars and Stripes reported.

U.S. soldiers patrol the perimeter of a weapons cache four miles of the US military base in Bagram, Afghanistan (File) - Sputnik International
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"At this time, I can confirm that US Forces-Afghanistan did conduct a strike in support of Afghan operations and in defense of Afghan forces in Azra district, Logar province, early this morning," Lieutenant Colonel Martin O'Donnell, the spokesperson for the US military in Afghanistan, told the publication.

He later told AFP that an investigation has been launched into the incident. "We are looking into the matter further," he said.

Although officials are still trying to determine the exact number of casualties, Abdul Wal Wakeel, a provincial council member from Azra, told Stars and Stripes that the strike killed 12 Afghan security forces members. The official added that prior to the strike, another eight officers and two civilians were killed in clashes with the Taliban.

"Foreign forces should not repeat the mistake they made early this morning," Wakeel told the publication. "If they continue to be careless, it could create a much bigger problem."

Since ending their combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, US forces have remained in an advisory capacity to help train Afghan troops and provide assistance in counter-terrorism missions. This latest investigation follows another the US military is conducting into an airstrike that killed up to 14 civilians in Kunduz last month.

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