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Accidental US Airstrike Kills 7 Afghan Soldiers


An Afghanistan National Army soldier stands guard in a trench in district of Baraki Barak in Logar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, July 20, 2015.

Authorities in southeastern Afghanistan say NATO attack helicopters bombed a security outpost early Monday, killing at least seven Afghan soldiers and wounding five others.

The deadly airstrike occurred in restive Logar Province, where Taliban insurgents frequently launch attacks against Afghan national security forces.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry said coalition helicopters were flying over an area where clashes between security forces and Taliban militants were underway. It said insurgents fired toward the aircraft, prompting a response that destroyed one security outpost.

Afghan National Army area commander General Abdul Razak acknowledged the attack in the Baraki Barak district, 50 kilometers east of Kabul, appeared to have been carried out mistakenly. He told VOA an investigation was underway to determine what went wrong.

“At around 6 a.m. coalition aircraft arrived and repeatedly bombed for an hour the Chiltan area where there are three Afghan security outposts,” Razak said.

Investigation under way

A spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan said “we deeply regret the loss of Afghan National Army soldiers in this incident.” He added that with Afghan partners a joint investigation has been initiated and promised to release further details about the incident as they become available. He would not comment on the damage the bombing caused.

The airstrike took place a day after U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey visited Kabul, where he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Dempsey said on Twitter that Ghani had "expressed his thanks for the stalwart U.S. support to their freedom and security."

Monday's deadly incident follows an unusual lull in the Taliban-led insurgent violence during the three-day Eid festival that marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

Some observers attribute the temporary pause in insurgent attacks to the face-to-face talks earlier this month between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Pakistan hosted the peace dialogue in its tourist town of Murree near Islamabad.

The two sides agreed to meet again after Ramadan, and officials acknowledged the issue of a cease-fire on Eid came up in the discussions. But there was no announcement whether either side would agree to a cease-fire.