WASHINGTON — A contingent of Afghan soldiers accidentally attacked a joint Afghan-U.S. force on Wednesday, triggering an air strike on them before the mistakes were realized, Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
An unspecified number of Afghan security forces personnel were killed in the air strike, the Pentagon said
“This operation was extensively planned and coordinated with U.S. and Afghan security forces to prevent an event like this from occurring,” Col. David Butler, a spokesman for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said. “We regret the tragic loss of our Afghan partners.”
Butler said the joint U.S.-Afghan force “came under effective fire” during a joint patrol in the country’s Kunduz province. That prompted the call for precision air support “to suppress the onslaught of machine gun fire,” he said.
It is the third major friendly fire incident this year.
In May, 18 Afghan police officers died from U.S. airstrikes in Helmand province while moving to protect civilians during a battle with Taliban forces. In March, U.S. airstrikes decimated a 17-man Afghan National Army outpost during a firefight that started when an Afghan military unit attacked a U.S.- Afghan patrol convoy.