- Afghan forces at a base in southern Afghanistan mistakenly opened fire on a patrol consisting of Afghan troops and US advisers, igniting an hours-long firefight.
- The deadly fight ended Wednesday morning with the destruction of the Afghan National Army base by US warplanes.
- Five Afghan soldiers were killed, and another nine were wounded. No Americans were killed or wounded.
American warplanes destroyed an Afghan National Army base Wednesday after Afghan soldiers there mistakenly targeted a patrol of Afghan and US forces, igniting a tragic firefight that lasted hours and left five Afghan soldiers dead and another nine wounded, according to multiple reports.
Afghan National Army soldiers stationed at a checkpoint in southern Afghanistan opened fire on a patrol of Afghan troops and American advisers conducting a planned night raid outside Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province. The soldiers at the base were apparently unaware that the approaching convoy was friendly.
“Our forces on the ground, they didn’t know about this fact, they started shooting,” an Afghan defence ministry official said, according to Stars and Stripes.
The soldiers at the checkpoint targeted the patrol with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The patrol fired back, eventually calling in air support. “The US conducted a precision self-defence airstrike on people who were firing at a partnered US-Afghan force,” Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, a US military spokeswoman, told The New York Times.
“This is an example of the fog of war,” she said. “The Afghan and US partnered force tried to de-escalate the situation but in the fog of war they continued to be fired upon.”
“We are operating in a complex environment, Afghans included, where attacks come from fighters who do not wear their uniforms,” Richardson further explained of the incident, which is raising renewed questions about the competence and leadership of Afghan forces.
In the past, militants have engaged in attacks in stolen US military vehicles and uniforms, and radicalized soldiers and police officers have turned on coalition forces in so-called insider attacks.
The firefight lasted four hours, running until 3 a.m. and ending with the destruction of the Afghan National Army outpost – Satarman Base – by US aircraft, Mohammed Karim Karimi, the deputy head of the Uruzgan provincial council, told The Times.
“It is still not confirmed who fired first, but then they both engaged in a firefight,” he explained. “There was a misunderstanding between both sides.”
The Afghan defence ministry has acknowledged that the Afghan soldiers at Satarman Base fired first.
The destroyed outpost is thought to be on the frontlines in the fight against the Taliban, an insurgent force that only on Monday wiped out an entire company of Afghan soldiers, killing or capturing more than 50 troops.
The base that was destroyed Wednesday was home to about two dozen Afghan soldiers.
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