Afghan officials on Wednesday stated that a misunderstanding between Afghan troops and US forces in the country resulted in a firefight followed by US airstrikes that destroyed an Afghan Army base.
At least five Afghan soldiers were killed and 10 injured in air strikes conducted by US forces in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan on Wednesday, Afghan officials said, in an apparent case of friendly fire.
The Defence Ministry said in a statement giving the casualty numbers the Afghan soldiers had been patrolling a checkpoint.
“This attack was caused due to lack of proper coordination,” a ministry official told Reuters.
US forces launched two “self-defense” airstrikes near an Afghan National Army checkpoint in the Uruzgan province on Wednesday, according to a coalition spokesman.
US and coalition officials told CNN that the strikes were launched Wednesday morning local time after a US-Afghan convoy came under fire from friendly forces positioned near the checkpoint. No US forces were killed during the incident.
“The US launched a precision airstrike near an Afghan National Army checkpoint on Wednesday after Afghan and US forces came under fire and requested air support,” according to Lt. Ubon Mendie, a spokesman for the US forces based in Afghanistan.
“The strikes were conducted after Afghan and US forces came under effective small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire and requested air support in self-defense,”
The convoy tried to communicate it was a friendly group as it neared the checkpoint but was unable to deescalate the situation, US and coalition officials said.
An Afghan quick reaction force was initially called in to help but the firing continued. Ultimately, US forces called in the airstrikes targeting areas near the checkpoint where they believed the fire was coming from.
“We are operating in a complex environment where enemy fighters do not wear uniforms and use stolen military vehicles to attack government forces,” Mendie said.
While the incident is currently under investigation, a coalition official said an initial working theory at this point is that the Afghan soldiers did not realize they were firing on a friendly convoy.