Air strike kills Afghan counter-narcotics troops

Seventeen killed in reported NATO strike during operation to nab drug smuggling suspects in Helmand province.

    The area, known as Registan, is where government anti-drug forces set up ambushes to intercept drug smugglers [Al Jazeera]
    The area, known as Registan, is where government anti-drug forces set up ambushes to intercept drug smugglers [Al Jazeera]

    An air strike has killed at least 17 members of Afghanistan's anti-narcotics special forces who were on a mission in the province of Helmand, local government officials told Al Jazeera.

    Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, told Al Jazeera on Monday that the "foreign air strike" that killed the government troops took place on Sunday evening.  

    Ayoub Omar Omari, district governor of Garamsir in Helmand, also confirmed the report to Al Jazeera, adding that the vehicles of the special forces were hit in an area named Registan, between the provinces of Kandahar and Helmand.

    101 East - Afghanistan's billion dollar drug war

    The area is where the government's anti-drug police forces regularly set up ambushes to intercept drug smugglers.

    Another Afghan official told the Associated Press news agency that the air strike was committed by NATO forces and came during an operation that was meant to arrest drug-smuggling suspects.

    Al Jazeera has contacted NATO and the US-led coalition forces, but they have yet to comment on the reported strike.

    NATO ended its combat mission in Afghanistan in December 2014, pulling out the bulk of its troops - although a 13,000-strong residual force remains for training and counterterrorism operations.

    Stretched on multiple fronts as the Taliban's campaign expands, Afghan forces are facing their first fighting season without the full support of US-led NATO forces.

    The Taliban are stepping up their summer offensive, launched in late April, amid a bitter leadership dispute following the announcement of the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.

    Mullah Akhtar Mansour, Omar's trusted deputy, was named as the new Taliban chief in late July.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Al Jazeera read all 181 pages of 'the deal of the century', comparing its language with 100 years of failed agreements.

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.