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NATO Accused of Friendly Fire After Airstrike Kills 11 Afghan Narcotics Cops

If confirmed, the alleged friendly fire incident in Afghanistan's opium-rich Helmand province would be the deadliest the country has seen in years.
September 7, 2015, 5:55pm
Imagen por Parwiz Parwiz/Reuters

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An airstrike allegedly conducted by NATO forces in Afghanistan's Helmand province left 11 of the country's policemen dead and another four injured on Sunday, according to a statement from a Ministry of Interior spokesman.

The airstrike hit officers who were assigned to a counter-narcotics police force in the opium-rich region in southern Afghanistan, according to deputy Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish. If confirmed, the alleged friendly fire incident would be the deadliest the country has seen in years. It occurred due to improper coordination between the US and Afghan militaries, the Wall Street Journal reported.

US Army Colonel Brian Tribus, a spokesman for the US forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement to VICE News on Monday that neither the US or NATO forces carried out strikes in the area on Sunday.

"There were no strikes conducted by US or NATO forces in Helmand Province on 6 September," Tribus said. "US forces conducted kinetic strikes in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, September 6th to eliminate threats to the force."

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Tribus made no reference to whether or not anyone was accidentally caught in the line of fire from these strikes, instead referring inquiries about Afghanistan's counter-narcotics forces to the Ministry of Interior.

While the US officially concluded its Afghanistan mission in December, NATO and the US have continued to carry out airstrikes in the country, with more than 100 launched in June. While this was more than the 41 carried out in May, the number of strikes overall are down compared to recent years, according to AFP. The air campaign has seen a boost in Helmand, however, as a result of Taliban encroachment in the area, AFP reported.

There is currently a force of 13,000 foreign troops, largely from the US, in the country for the purpose of training and counterterrorism activities. In June, seven Afghan troops died in Logar province in another case of friendly fire resulting from an airstrike. A 2014 incident saw a coalition strike inadvertently take out one Afghan soldier and five US forces.

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VICE News' Abdul Aleem contributed reporting