Wednesday, Oct 22, 2008
Nine Afghan soldiers have been killed by mistake in a Nato-led air strike in southeast Afghanistan.
An Afghan army post was pounded by gunships on a road in Dowa Manda district of Khost province, a Taliban stronghold, district chief Lutfullah Babakarkheil said.
Eight soldiers were killed and four wounded, he said. The Afghan Defence Ministry in Kabul put the number of troops killed at nine.
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Ministry spokesman Zaher Azimi said: “Nine have been martyred, three wounded, one critically in the attack by international forces.”
The US-led coalition said its troops “may have mistakenly killed and injured” Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers after coming under attack while returning from an operation.
“As a coalition convoy was returning from a previous operation, they were involved in multiple engagements. As a result of the engagements, ANA soldiers were killed and injured,” the military said in a statement.
“Initial reports from troops on the ground indicate that this may be a case of mistaken identity on both sides,” it said, adding that the number of casualties was not yet available.
Scores of Afghan civilians have been killed in air strikes by international troops this year, according to officials in the country who say there’s a perception that Nato-led and US coalition forces do not take enough care when calling in air support.