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NATO 'Friendly Fire' Incident Kills 5 Afghan Soldiers

NATO troops in Afghanistan (FILE)

NATO troops in Afghanistan (FILE)

A NATO airstrike killed five Afghan soldiers Wednesday and wounded two others in what officials say was a "friendly fire" incident. The Afghan troops were were on patrol in the eastern Ghazni province, when a NATO aircraft began shooting at them.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi condemned the accident, saying this is not the first time NATO troops have mistakenly killed Afghan soldiers.

NATO spokesperson General Josef Blotz expressed regret for the deaths and said the botched strike was likely caused by a coordination issue. Another NATO spokesperson, Jane Campbell, also gave condolences and said the alliance works hard to coordinate and synchronize operations with its Afghan counterpart. NATO said the strike was believed to be directed at Afghan insurgents. A joint investigating team has been sent to Andar district to gather information.

In neighboring Paktika province, NATO says it launched an airstrike late Tuesday, killing several insurgents after a joint force came under fire in the Yahya Khel district. Also Tuesday, NATO said four service members were killed in attacks in Afghanistan. Last month was the deadliest for international forces in Afghanistan since 2001.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.