KANDAHAR: An apparent case of “friendly fire” between Afghan and US troops led to an airstrike which killed five Afghan soldiers, officials said Wednesday, with the defence ministry citing a “lack of proper coordination”.
The incident occurred Wednesday when a US and Afghan patrol came under fire near an Afghan army post on the outskirts of Tarin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, a NATO spokesman in Kabul told AFP.
They called in airstrikes which hit the army post, killing five and seriously wounding a further 10 Afghan soldiers, said Karim Karimi, deputy head of the Uruzgan provincial council.
“As the American patrol approached the base, the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldiers probably thought it was the Taliban approaching them,” he told AFP.
Large parts of Uruzgan province remain under the Taliban control. In recent years the militants have also made repeated incursions into the provincial capital.
Seventeen soldiers had been at the post in total, with only two managing to flee unhurt, Karimi said.
The Afghan defence ministry confirmed the toll, saying that Afghan and US forces had been conducting a “joint operation” in the area at the time.
“Because of a lack of proper coordination of the army, an ANA post was hit,” a ministry statement said, adding that an investigation is ongoing.