Reuters, January 10, 2011
Three Afghan police killed in Nato air strike
Deadly air strike in central Afghanistan is the third 'friendly fire' incident in fewer than five weeks
A Nato air raid in central Afghanistan may have killed three Afghan police officers and wounded three others, the third such incident in fewer than five weeks.
An Afghan policeman in Kabul. Almost 1,300 police officers were killed in Afghanistan last year, according to the Afghan government. (Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA)
Foreign troops on patrol in Daykundi province yesterday called in an air strike after seeing nine people setting up what appeared to be an ambush, the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said. It was later determined the raid may have targeted Afghan police, it said.
"While we take extraordinary precaution while conducting operations to avoid friendly casualties, it appears innocent people may have been mistakenly targeted," a senior Isaf spokesman, Colonel Rafael Torres, said in a statement.
The air strike in Daykundi, a remote province west of Kabul, is the third such incident in more than a month. Civilian casualties and the mistaken killing of members of the Afghan security forces have been a frequent source of friction between President Hamid Karzai's government and western military forces in a war now in its 10th year.
On 8 December, the Afghan defence ministry condemned a foreign air raid in Logar province in which it said two of its soldiers were killed and wounded five.
On 16 December, the defence ministry said a US air strike in southern Helmand province killed four Afghan soldiers.
Violence has surged in Afghanistan with record casualties on all sides. Last year, 711 foreign soldiers were killed, according to monitoring website iCasualties.com, up from 521 in 2009.
Afghan security forces have been hit even harder. A total of 1,292 police and 821 soldiers were killed in 2010, according to the Afghan government.
Ordinary Afghans, however, have borne the brunt of the fighting. The UN has said 2,412 civilians were killed and 3,803 wounded in the first 10 months of last year, a 20% increase on 2009.
The government has said 5,225 insurgents were killed last year.
Meanwhile, in southern Kandahar, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives as Afghan police surrounded his vehicle in Spin Boldak this morning, killing two policemen and a civilian, the interior ministry said.
The police had pursued the bomber after deciding his vehicle looked suspicious, it said. Police had earlier said three policemen had been killed.
Spin Boldak, a major crossing point on the border with Pakistan, has seen frequent militant attacks.
On Friday, a suicide bomber killed 17 people, including a police commander, and wounded 21, inside a public bathhouse, the worst insurgent attack since late July.
Separately, foreign and Afghan troops killed more than 10 suspected insurgents during a raid in the northern province of Kunduz on Sunday, Isaf said in a statement.
The Taliban-led insurgency has spread out of its traditional strongholds in the south and east over the past two years into once peaceful areas of the north and west. The north, in particular, has become a deadly new front in the war.
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