Five Americans troops were accidentally killed by an airstrike in southern Afghanistan in one of the worst friendly fire cases involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14-year war.
The not so friendly fire incident took place on Monday night in Zabul province, where Afghan troops were conducting security operations. When the group was attacked by enemy forces, they called for air support. Instead they got ambushed by a different kind of enemy – Nato forces. The Nato aircraft accidentally struck the location of the U.S. soldiers, killing five of them and at least one Afghan soldier.
“Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” a statement from international forces in Kabul said.
While friendly fire incidents are not as few and far between as they should be, Monday’s case is among the most serious in Afghanistan, where Nato-led troops have been battling Taliban and other various insurgents since 2001.
Since the war began, there have been more than a dozen instances of airstrikes or friendly fires on allies and fellow coalition troops. One of the worst friendly fire incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which decided to drop a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in Kandahar. But the Americans have had their fair share of casualties too – perhaps the most famous resulting in the death of NFL player Pat Tillman in 2004.
Still, five in one strike is quite a lot – the U.S. must be pretty upset.
“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.
As for the Afghan casualty? Meh.