At least 3 policemen killed by US airstrike in Afghanistan – officials
At least three Afghan Border Police agents were killed and two wounded by a US airstrike, according to an Afghan official. US military command in Kabul acknowledged the casualties and expressed condolences to those “affected by this unfortunate incident.”
The strike occurred in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province early on Saturday.
“The incident occurred in surrounding areas of Nad Ali district, west of the provincial capital Lashkar Gah city at mid-night. The unpleasant incident took place during a joint operation conducted by Afghan forces and international troops there,” provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak told Xinhua.
The US military command in Kabul confirmed the “friendly fire” incident, but gave no casualty toll, stating that it occurred when an aircraft “returned fire” during a joint operation by Afghan and American special forces, Reuters reports citing a military spokesperson.
“We would like to express our deepest condolences to the families of the ABP members affected by this unfortunate incident,” the statement said, as cited by Reuters. The military command has launched an investigation into the incident.
Helmand, the largest of Afghanistan’s provinces, has been suffering from Taliban insurgency for months with militants making significant gains and threatening the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah. Three hundreds of US Marines have been recently dispatched to the province to provide training and support Afghan security forces. American troops, including special forces, also participate in counter-terrorism operations.
In a separate development, at least three worshipers were killed and nine others injured at a mosque late on Friday in the Afghan province of Paktia, according to a Ministry of Interior statement. A group of unidentified militants stormed the mosque and opened fire on worshipers during Friday prayer in “an act against Islam and humanity,” the ministry said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the mosque shooting.
Afghanistan has recently experienced a surge in terrorist attacks and other violence, which caused heavy civilian casualties. One of the deadliest terrorist attacks occurred in the capital city, Kabul, on May 31, when a powerful truck bomb went off in a diplomatic district killing at least 90 and injuring some 400 people.
The violence continued on June 2, when more than 1,000 protesters gathered in central Kabul to commemorate the victims of the devastating bombing, call for better security and demand that top Afghan officials step down. The protest promptly turned violent, as demonstrators began to throw stones at law enforcement officers, and the riot police responded by firing live bullets at the crowd. Several people were killed and injured in the clashes.
The next day a triple suicide bombing ripped through a funeral of one of the demonstration victims in Kabul, killing up to 20 and injuring some 90 people.