US forces 'kill Afghan police'

Eight dead after two sides apparently mistake each other for Taliban fighters.

    The Afghan president called the attack on the remote police post "a tragic accident" [Reuters]
    "The police checkpoint in the area thought that they were the enemy, so police opened fire on the coalition, and then the coalition thought that the enemies were firing on them, so they returned fire back."

    Mistaken identity


    Esanullah, the commander of the checkpoint, said eight police were killed and four wounded.


    "The Americans came close to our checkpoint with the lights of their vehicles off.


    "We shouted at them to stop, but they didn't, and they opened fire on us."

    Khan Mohammad, one of the policemen at the post, said: "I thought they were Taliban, and we shouted at them to stop, but they came closer and they opened fire."

    "I'm very angry. We are here to protect the Afghan government and help serve the Afghan government, but the Americans have come to kill us"

    Khan Mohammad,
    police officer

    "I'm very angry. We are here to protect the Afghan government and help serve the Afghan government, but the Americans have come to kill us."

    The US-led coalition said that its soldiers had been fired at while trying to conduct a raid against a "suspected Taliban safe house".

    "En route to the location the forces were suddenly ambushed from both sides with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms and returned fire and called in air support and broke contact," Major Chris Belcher, US military spokesman, said.

    James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan, said it was one of the worst incidents of mistaken fire in Afghanistan.

    "I think most of the Afghan police officers were killed and injured when a helicopter gunship arrived on the scene and started firing rockets ... one of those injured is in a grave situation," he said.

    Rahimi said the incident was being investigated and showed why Karzai has repeatedly called for increased co-operation and communication between Afghan and international troops.

    Civilians suffering

    Meanwhile, the International Red Cross warned that Afghan civilians increasingly paying the price of the bitter fighting between the Taliban and Nato-led forces.

    "The humanitarian situation in Afghanistan is worse now than it was a year ago," Pierre Kraehenbuehl, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said.

    "Civilians suffer horribly from mounting threats to their security, such as increasing numbers of roadside bombs and suicide attacks, and regular aerial bombing raids."

    The Geneva-based organisation said it was in contact with all parties in the conflict - which would include the Taliban militants - in order to obtain security guarantees and access throughout the country.

    On Tuesday, armed men on motorcycles shot at a girls' school about 60km south of Kabul killing a teacher and a pupil, the government said. 

    "As the result of the attack by the enemies of education, two females were killed and two other females and a child were wounded," an interior ministry statement said.

    Dozens of attacks on schools in Afghanistan have been blamed on the Taliban movement that prevented girls from going to school while it was in power between 1996 and 2001.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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