Published on Friday, August 18, 2006 by Agence France Presse
Mistaken Coalition Bombing Kills up to 12 Afghan Policemen
Up to 12 policemen were killed in Afghanistan when a US-led coalition plane mistakenly bombed them, officials have said, while two suicide blasts wounded eight more police and a US soldier.
The coalition said meanwhile it had killed eight "extremists" in a gunbattle in the east of the country Thursday while a government official reported that a medical team of 15 people, mainly doctors and nurses, was kidnapped in the south.
The violence was the latest in a surge of attacks in Afghanistan blamed largely on the extremist Taliban movement that was toppled by a coalition of foreign forces and Afghan factions nearly five years ago.
The coalition plane that dropped the bomb on a police patrol in eastern Paktika province may have mistaken the convoy for a band of Taliban attackers, provincial border police regiment commander Abdul Hamid said.
"They came under US bombardment and 12 policemen where killed, including the police commander," Hamid said.
The coalition confirmed "an event did happen". "It is under investigation. We are scrambling to get the details," spokesman Colonel Thomas Collins said.
President Hamid Karzai said he was "shocked and angered" and had ordered an investigation. The incident was the latest in a string of coalition bombings that have killed civilians or Afghan security forces.
"I have repeatedly asked the coalition forces to take maximum caution while carrying out operations and I want that incidents like this must not be repeated," Karzai said in a statement that put the death toll at 10.
The kidnapping of the medical team and one of the suicide attacks occurred in the troubled southern province of Kandahar, from where the Taliban rose in the early 1990s to have control of most of Afghanistan by 1996.
The suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden van near a US-led coalition and Afghan military convoy outside Kandahar city, wounding the US soldier "pretty seriously", Collins told reporters in Kabul.
The coalition soldier was helping to train the fledgling Afghan National Army, he said.
Hours earlier another suicide attacker exploded bombs strapped to his body as he walked into a police checkpoint in neighbouring Uruzgan province, wounding eight policemen, interior ministry spokesman Yousuf Stanizai said.
Suicide attacks are a key feature of the relentless Taliban insurgency that has caused the most bloodshed this year since it was launched although the vast majority of hundreds of people who have died are militants.
The coalition announced meanwhile that on Wednesday it killed eight "extremists" who attacked them in the eastern province of Kunar, also hard-hit by the insurgency.
And Collins said a US soldier was killed in Paktika Wednesday in an explosion caused by a mine that appeared to have been left over from the resistance to the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation.
"Reports indicate enemy action was not the cause," he said at a media briefing. Afghanistan is one of the most mined countries in the world after nearly three decades of war.
Another tactic of the insurgents battling the government of Karzai, Afghanistan's first democratically elected president, is to kidnap and sometimes kill Afghans and foreign nationals working for the government or international forces.
The 15-person team that was kidnapped in Kandahar Thursday was employed by the province's refugee department and had been on the way to visit a refugee camp, department official Agha Jan Nazari said.
Their vehicle was hijacked in a Taliban-dominated district. "Unknown people have kidnapped them and we don't know anything about their fates," he said. "The kidnappers have not contacted us so far yet."
Copyright © 2006 AFP