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World & Nation

U.S. airstrike mistakenly kills 5 Afghan soldiers

Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, center, arrives at a news conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, while on a state visit.
(Ishara S. Kodikara / AFP/Getty Images)
<i>This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.</i>

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A U.S. airstrike hit an Afghan army outpost early Thursday morning, killing five Afghan soldiers and injuring seven others, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

Officials in the Charkh district of eastern Logar province, where the incident occurred about 3:20 a.m., said the deaths and injuries were the result of a drone strike. U.S. officials would not comment on reports that a drone was involved but described the incident as an “unfortunate” mistake.

“We can confirm that at least five Afghan National Army personnel were accidentally killed this morning during an operation in eastern Afghanistan,” read a statement from the International Security Assistance Force, as the U.S.-led military coalition is known.

“We value the strong relationship with our Afghan partners, and we will determine what actions will be taken to ensure incidents like this do not happen again.”

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who in the past has harshly criticized Western forces over such Afghan civilian and military casualties, did not immediately condemn the international troops, telling reporters during a state visit to Sri Lanka that the incident is being investigated.

“This attack, NATO has admitted to me they did it mistakenly. We will investigate the issue and then speak about it,” Karzai said, according to the Associated Press.

Din Mohammad Darwish, spokesman for the Logar provincial governor, said Afghan soldiers were being sent to conduct an investigation in Charkh, described by Afghan and U.S. officials alike as an area infested with insurgents.

[For The Record, 1:20 p.m. PST March 6: An earlier version of this post stated that the airstrike occurred Wednesday. It happened on Thursday.]

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Baktash is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report from Washington.


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