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Jan 31st, 2010

NATO Friendly Fire Kills 4 in Afghan Unit

Image: Afghan National Army soldier
An Afghan National Army soldier stands guard near the scene of a friendly fire incident. (Photo credit: Rahmat Nikzad / AP)

Jan. 30, 2010

GHAZNI — A joint U.S.-Afghan force clashed with Afghan troops manning a snow-covered outpost and called in an airstrike early Saturday, killing four Afghan soldiers, U.S. and Afghan officials said. Both sides called the clash a case of mistaken identity.

Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry condemned the killings in the eastern Wardak province and demanded punishment for those responsible. NATO called the deaths “regrettable” and announced an investigation.

The deaths are likely to strain relations between NATO and Afghan forces at a time both are calling for a closer partnership in the fight against the Taliban.

Underscoring those tensions, an Afghan interpreter killed two U.S. service members Friday at a combat outpost elsewhere in Wardak province, a NATO official said.

A U.S. soldier then killed the interpreter, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to release the information. It wasn’t clear why the interpreter had opened fire on the Americans. …

Associated Press Television News footage of the aftermath showed American armored vehicles on the highway, about a half mile from the hilltop outpost. The snow outside the fortified compound was blackened by the airstrike. …

It was believed to be the first fatal friendly fire incident since November, when eight Afghans — four soldiers, three policemen and an interpreter — were killed during close combat amid a search for a missing U.S. paratrooper. …

Saturday’s incident followed the deaths Friday of two U.S. service members and one U.S. employee who were killed in eastern Afghanistan. In a statement announcing the deaths, NATO did not specify the circumstances or give further details pending an investigation.

That suggested the deaths may not have been due to hostile fire.

Also Saturday, NATO said its troops opened fire on a taxi the day before as it sped toward a patrol, ignoring warning shots. Two civilians were killed and one was wounded in the shooting, which occurred in the Muqor district of Ghazni province.

U.S. soldiers shot and killed an Afghan imam Thursday when his car approached a convoy on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. …


Related reports on this site

“Death to America” (Jan. 7, 2010)

“Death to Obama” (Dec. 31, 2009)

Afghan Soldier Kills U.S. Troop (Dec. 29, 2009)

One Informant, Many Dead (Sept. 5, 2009)

Afghan Villagers Protest Raids (Feb. 1, 2009)

Karzai: Stop Air-Raiding Civilians (Nov. 5, 2008)

Karzai Warns of Afghan Backlash (Sept. 25, 2008)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — January 31, 2009

Image: Iraq candidate killed
Mourners gather around the coffin of Omer Farooq al-Ani, a Sunni candidate for provincial council killed in a drive-by shooting in Baghdad on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009. Gunmen apparently targeting political candidates staged attacks around Iraq. (Photo credit: Khalid Mohammed / AP)

Election Day in Iraq

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that Iraq imposed a nationwide security lockdown before key regional elections with blanket measures not seen since the deadliest years of the insurgency, underscoring the high stakes for Iraqi leaders desperate to portray stability after nearly six years of conflict prompted by the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

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