Afghan soldiers killed by US air strike, say officials

Afghan soldiers perform during their training by the US Army in Herat city, one of the seven Afghan cities and provinces where US is to handover security responsibility to Afghan forces
Nato ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014, leaving local forces to battle the Taliban alone  Photo: EPA

At least seven members of the Afghan army have been killed accidentally in a US-led airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, in the deadliest incident of friendly fire involving international forces since the war began in 2001.

A further five troops were injured in the 7am airstrike over Baraki Barak district in the eastern province of Logar.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Halim Fedahi, the provincial governor, said officials in Logar were given no forewarning about the strike which led to the deaths, less than a mile from an ANA base that was clearly flying the Afghan flag.

The Western district, which has a strong Taliban presence, is situated less than 10 miles from Pol-e Alam, the provincial capital.

A US Marine helicopter over Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan (AP)

Fedahi said neither security nor provincial officials have yet to be provided details as to what the target of the two helicopters was.

“The district governor and security officials have been dispatched to the area, but we have yet to be told what the US target was or why we were not consulted prior to the strike,” Fedahi told The Telegraph.

The international coalition, led by more than 6,000 US troops, issued a statement to the press saying the incident is now under investigation.

Afghan town bathed in British blood once more at Taliban's mercy

Though the official combat mission in Afghanistan ended earlier in the year, more than 13,000 foreign troops remain as part of the international coalition, now known as Resolute Support.

Further troubling for residents of the eastern province, which has long been considered one of the most insecure in the nation, was that the airstrikes were followed by a fire fight between the ANA and Taliban-allied fighters.

Afghan special forces are put through their paces at the commando training centre in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP)

Fedahi, said the fire-fight, which began at 9am, lasted only 20 minutes.

Locals were also troubled by the fact that the fire fight took place as the casualties were being transferred from the attack site.

The Monday morning incident marked the second time in a year when Afghan soldiers in Logar were killed by US forces.

Last March, five members of the ANA were killed by a similar US strike.

Monday's air strikes occurred as Afghan officials prepare for their second ever face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives at the end of the month.

That meeting, currently scheduled for July 31, comes weeks after members of the nation’s High Peace Council, the body formed in 2010 to negotiate with the armed opposition, held their first-ever direct talks with Taliban representatives in Pakistan earlier this month.

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Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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