U.S. airstrike mistakenly kills Afghan Police in battle with Taliban

Jul 26, 2017

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An errant US air strike has killed 16 Afghan National Police officers who were fighting the Taliban terrorist and injured two others last July 22, 2017. Helmand provincial police chief Abdul Ghafar Safi said on Saturday that the death toll in Friday’s strike was determined after a site inspection of the compound in Gereshk District. The Pentagon confirmed the air strike on the Security Forces compound happened during a US supported operation against Taliban insurgents in the area, and offered its condolences to the families of the security forces who were killed. Safi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the dead were police officers who were operating with the army in the area. He said they had recaptured the post from the Taliban when the airstrike occurred. On Friday, the Helmand Gov. Hayatullah Hayat said it was believed the police officers were not in uniform, which may have resulted in mistakenly identifying them as terrorist. While much of Helmand province is under the control of Taliban, Afghan national security forces have been waging fierce battles to retake territory. Nato and US troops are in Helmand to assist Afghan troops.

An official told The Associated Press that the dead were police officers who were operating with the army in the area. A to local police sources; an Afghan police unit retook a checkpoint captured by the Taliban on Thursday. Due to apparent miscommunication, a US gunship bombed the police unit 30 minutes later. The spokesman to the provincial governor, Omar Zawak, said the number of killed and injured was not yet clear. Helmand’s police chief said 12 members of the Afghan National Security Forces died in the strike. The incident followed a week of intensified US airstrikes in Helmand. The US air campaign in Afghanistan has reached a level not seen since 2012, when there were almost 10 times as many US troops in the country. According to Bill Salvin, spokesman for the coalition forces in Afghanistan, the US has conducted more than 50 airstrikes in the province over the past five days. The deaths in Helmand added to a particularly bloody day for the Afghan police. In the northeastern Badakhshan province, the Taliban killed at least 32 members of the local police and government-aligned uprising groups in a push to capture Tagaq district. Some of the people killed were murdered after the Taliban surrounded a house they were staying in, while the rest were shot in an ambush, said Abdullah Naji Nazari, the head of the provincial council.