Afghan official says 10 killed in coalition airstrike were police officers, not militants
KABUL, Afghanistan – A top Afghan border police official said Friday that 10 people killed in a U.S.-led coalition airstrike had been identified as police officers, despite the U.S. military saying it believes it hit insurgents fleeing the scene of an attack.The military said it was investigating Thursday’s coalition airstrike in southeastern Paktika province but was confident that the trucks struck by coalition aircraft were those of “extremists” who had attacked coalition and Afghan forces, killing one Afghan soldier.”I completely reject what the coalition is claiming,” said Gen. Abdul Rahman, Afghanistan’s deputy chief of border police. “All these people who have been killed were very active and smart officers.”Meanwhile, the coalition said insurgents had killed a U.S.-led coalition soldier and wounded another in an ambush on their patrol near Asad Abad, the capital of eastern Kunar province, on Thursday. It did not give the nationality of the soldiers, but most of the coalition troops in Kunar are American.There have been repeated incidents of civilians killed in coalition operations against Taliban fighters, who often hide among civilians. In April, clashes between insurgents and U.S., Canadian and British troops in southern Afghanistan left 13 civilians dead.President Hamid Karzai, who depends on the U.S. military to back his weak government but has become increasingly outspoken about the tactics of international forces, condemned the airstrike and called for an investigation.”I have repeatedly asked the coalition forces to take maximum caution while carrying out operations and I want that incidents like this must not be repeated,” Karzai said in a statement Thursday.Also in Paktika province, Taliban-linked militants on a motorcycle killed an Afghan policeman in a hand-grenade attack Friday before bystanders shot the militants dead, an official said on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media.U.S. and NATO forces have stepped up operations along the eastern border with Pakistan, and in the volatile south, to counter an upsurge in militant activity believed to involve al-Qaida, Taliban and other anti-government elements, including drug traffickers.—Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.
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