The U.S. military in Afghanistan says coalition troops accidentally killed six Afghan National Police and wounded 13 others in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
A joint press release from the U.S. military and the Afghan Defense Ministry says when the incident occurred early Wednesday coalition forces were targeting an insurgent commander in Zabul Province.
The statement says at least one militant barricaded himself inside a building and fired on coalition forces until he was killed. Troops were searching the building, where women and children were present, when they began receiving fire from a nearby compound. Coalition troops returned fire and called in airstrikes. They then determined the apparent assailants were police. Another body was identified as a local national.
A U.S. spokesman said coalition forces deeply regret the incident of mistaken fire.
Lieutenant Commander Walter Matthews said initial reports indicate it was a tragic case of mistaken identity on both sides.
"We go well out of our way to ensure that tragic incidents like this do not happen. We conduct very extensive planning using our intelligence gathering resources," Matthews said. "We will continue to review and evaluate this incident and incidents in the past so such incidents like this will not happen again."
Military officials say a joint Afghan and coalition team has gone to the area to determine what happened. Friendly fire incidents and airstrikes killing civilians have provoked public outrage and condemnation from military leaders. President Hamid Karzai has called for an end to bombing civilian areas.