US airstrike mistakenly kills Afghan security forces, local officials say
August 7, 2018
KABUL, Afghanistan — A U.S. airstrike on Tuesday in eastern Logar province mistakenly hit friendly forces and killed several Afghan police officers, local officials said.
U.S. officials confirmed an airstrike in the area but not whether friendly forces were hit on Tuesday.
Afghan security forces had been battling the Taliban for 10 days in Logar’s Azra district when American airpower was called on, Mohammad Qaseem Sidiqi, a provincial council member, told Stars and Stripes.
The police had set up a line of defense to protect the district center, he said.
“But sadly, when the foreign forces’ helicopters arrived, their bombs hit them instead of the enemy,” Sidiqi said.
The strike killed 12 police officers, according to Abdul Wali Wakeel, another provincial council member from Azra district. Before the strike, another eight policemen and two civilians were killed in clashes with the Taliban, he added.
“Foreign forces should not repeat the mistake they made early this morning,” Wakeel said Tuesday. “If they continue to be careless, it could create a much bigger problem.”
Azra is a strategically important district bordering both Pakistan and Kabul province. It’s considered “contested,” meaning it is not controlled by either the government or the insurgency.
The U.S. military said it was aware of “varying and unconfirmed reports” of Afghan deaths caused by an American airstrike in Logar, and that it was looking into the matter.
“At this time, I can confirm that U.S. 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,” said Lt. Col. Martin O’Donnell, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul.
The U.S. military continues to investigate an airstrike last month in northern Kunduz province that local officials claim killed up to 14 civilians.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.