Afghan Soldiers Killed by US 'Friendly Fire'

American aircraft bombed Afghan National Army positions in eastern Logar province at around 7am local time, officials told VICE News.

by John Beck
Jul 20 2015, 11:40am

Photo by Abdul Mueed/EPA

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A US airstrike killed eight Afghan soldiers in a "friendly fire" attack on a military post Monday morning, local officials said.

American aircraft bombed Afghan National Army (ANA) positions in the Baraki Barak district of eastern Logar province at around 7am local time, district local police chief General Daoud Ahmadi told VICE News. Eight soldiers were killed and five wounded, according to provincial army commander General Abdul Razaq.

The army commander in the area told the BBC that the checkpoint was clearly flying an Afghan flag. Afghan officials said two US helicopters attacked the checkpoint in broad daylight.

A spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Kabul said it was aware of an incident involving US Forces in Logar province, whilst the Afghan defense ministry said it was investigating the deaths. 

Hardline Taliban insurgents have been very active in the province and launched a number of recent attacks — but airstrikes carried out by the US and its allies have also killed a string of civilian and soldiers and become a hugely contentious issue in the Afghan conflict. 

Between 14 and 39 Afghan civilians have been killed in 28 confirmed US airstrikes so far this year, according to data gathered by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The bulk of American and allied foreign forces pulled out of the country at the beginning of this year, passing most security duties to Afghan forces. Violence has been on the rise since then and intensified with the beginning of the Taliban's spring offensive in April, which has inflicted heavy casualties on security forces. 

The militants have continued with attacks despite taking part in preliminary peace talks with the Kabul government in Pakistan on July 7 — the first ever officially acknowledged face-to-face meetings. Many in the international community welcomed the development as a first step towards ending 13 years of devastating violence, which began in 2001 when the Taliban was removed from power by a US-led invasion.

Further talks are planned, at which point ceasefire discussions are set to take place, according to Afghan officials.