Five US soldiers 'killed by own air strike'
Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30
Five American servicemen were killed in southern Afghanistan on Monday, with reports that they died in a "friendly fire" incident.
The personnel – special ops forces – were apparently caught in one of their own air strikes.
If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition fire during the nearly 14-year Afghan war.
An Afghan translator and soldier also died in the incident in the Arghandab district of Zabul, in the south of the country.
Local officials said US forces had been patrolling the district as part of efforts to secure polling stations ahead of the country's election run-off on Saturday to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai.
They came under Taliban attack as they returned to their base and called in air support.
Ghulam Sakhi Roghlewai, a police chief, said: "Isaf (International Security Assistance Force) troops were returning to their bases after an operation when they were ambushed by the insurgents. The air strike mistakenly hit their own forces and killed the soldiers."
The incident marks the deadliest day since five British soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in Kandahar at the end of April and comes as combat forces are winding down their operations.
Some 50,000 Nato combat troops are due to leave the country by the end of this year.
An Isaf spokesman said the incident was under investigation.
"The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved."
Fratricide is the term used by US forces when they have accidentally killed soldiers on their own side. (© Daily Telegraph, London)