A U.S.-led coalition air strike mistakenly hit an Afghan army checkpoint Wednesday, killing nine soldiers and wounding three, Afghan officials said.
The strike hit a checkpoint in the Sayed Kheil area of Khost province in eastern Afghanistan, said Arsallah Jamal, the province's governor.
The U.S. said its forces "may have mistakenly killed and injured" Afghan soldiers in what may have been a case of mistaken identity "on both sides."
And how the hell do you get mistaken identity on both sides in this situation.... it was an Afgan checkpoint.... we're the guys on the ground thinking the Taliban had aircraft and started shooting at them and then the US responded?
Not bloody likely.
"As a Coalition forces convoy was returning from a previous operation, they were involved in multiple engagements," a U.S. military statement said. "As a result of the engagements, ANA [Afghan army] soldiers were killed and injured."
The chief spokesman for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Col. Greg Julian, said American officials would meet with Afghan defence officials to "sort out the details."
Jamal said U.S. and Afghan troops have been conducting operations in the region for more than a week, and the army checkpoint was in a fixed location.
The air strike killed nine soldiers and wounded three, said Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, the Defence Ministry spokesman.
Apparent friendly fire incidents have happened before. In June 2007, Afghan police mistook U.S. troops on a nighttime mission for Taliban fighters and opened fire on them, prompting U.S. forces to return fire and call in attack aircraft. Seven Afghan police were killed.
In the last month, uniformed Afghan police officers have twice opened fire on U.S. troops, killing two soldiers. The police officers were killed by U.S. soldiers returning fire, but the incidents raised fears that insurgents have infiltrated Afghanistan's security forces as a cover to launch attacks.
In the country's southern Uruzgan province, a two-day battle that ended early Wednesday killed 35 Taliban fighters and three Afghan police, said Juma Gul Himat, Uruzgan's provincial police chief.
Himat said the battle was led by Afghan forces but also involved helicopter gunships. Afghan forces recovered 35 bodies from the battlefield, he said. Some 100 Taliban fighters were involved in the battle.
More than 5,200 people — mostly militants — have died in insurgency-related violence this year, according to an Associated Press count of figures from Western and Afghan officials.