Up to eight policemen have been killed in Afghanistan as a result of US airstrikes, officials told media. The US has confirmed one airstrike, but insists the assault was in response to a threat.
An initial airstrike killed one policeman late Sunday, while a follow-up strike targeting first responders killed at least seven others, said Rahimullah Khan, commander of the reserve police unit in Uruzgan, according to Reuters.
Afghanistan’s ToloNews also reported that the eight Afghan National Police (ANP) officers were killed at their checkpoint in central Uruzgan province.
“The enemies were far, about 800 meters from our check posts and their flags were up and they were coming and bombing the police. It seems that it was ordered or they made a mistake. Anyone who was involved in this should be punished,” an anonymous official told the news outlet.
One of the soldiers who survived the attack, identified as Torjan, said: “I was at my check post. The first attack killed our colleagues and while we were trying to pull-out our colleagues from the check post than another attack happened.”
The US military command in Kabul has confirmed its warplanes conducted an airstrike in the area, but said those targeted were “individuals firing on, and posing a threat to” Afghan national security forces.
“We don’t have any further information on who those individuals might have been or why they were attacking ANDSF [Afghan national defense and security forces],” US military spokesman Brigadier General Charles Cleveland said in a statement.
“US, coalition, and Afghan forces have the right to self defense and in this case were responding to an immediate threat,” Cleveland added as quoted by Reuters.
Afghan officials said they are investigating the attack and communicating with the US-led coalition.
Afghan security forces, with the support of US airstrikes and international advisers, continue to battle Taliban militants in the country. The group has been fighting a 15-year insurgency against the Western-backed government.
This comes after an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Syria killed 62 government soldiers and injured 100 others amid a fragile ceasefire on Saturday. The US military admitted it may have unintentionally struck Syrian troops while carrying out a raid against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants.