Airstrike kills 17 policemen in south Afghanistan

Clay Curtis
May 20, 2019

A local security official requesting anonymity Friday confirmed to VOA the casualty toll, saying the deadly strike occurred just outside the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, where police forces were battling Taliban insurgents.

Afghan security officials patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on May 17 after a USA airstrike mistakenly killed 18 Afghan police officers.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs in a statement confirmed the casualties but said an investigation has been carried out to find out whether it was due to a friendly airstrike or due to the clashes with the Taliban. "Afghan security forces as well as Taliban fighters were killed in the strikes", he said.

"I can confirm an air strike on the Afghan police, and unfortunately, eight police were killed and 12 others were wounded", Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial government spokesman said. He said 11 more police had been wounded in the strike. The US claimed they asked the Afghan forces that the target was clear of friendly forces, and the Afghan forces failed to do so.

"We regret this tragic loss of life of our partners and are committed to improvement every day with every mission", Butler said.

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The US forces have not commented on the issue so far.

A joint delegation had been appointed to investigate the incident, Rahimi said.

Butler said the US and Afghan security forces were examining the "miscommunication" to ensure it didn't happen again.According to US Air Force Central Command, the US dropped 7,362 bombs in Afghanistan in 2018, the highest number since at least 2010.

The deadly bombing, although a relatively rare occurrence during the years of conflict here, bore a striking resemblance to a recent situation in southern Uruzgan province in March, when at least five Afghan soldiers were killed and 10 wounded in airstrikes carried out by US forces.

Civilian deaths from air strikes have also risen sharply this year.

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