The US bombed an Afghan Army base, killing 5 soldiers in a friendly firefight that lasted for hours
- Afghan forces at a base in southern Afghanistan mistakenly opened fire on a patrol consisting of Afghan troops and US advisers, igniting a firefight that lasted four hours.
- The deadly fight ended Wednesday morning with the destruction of the Afghan Army base by US warplanes.
- Five Afghan soldiers were killed in this incident, and another nine were wounded. No Americans were killed or wounded.
American warplanes destroyed an Afghan Army base Wednesday after Afghan soldiers there mistakenly targeted a patrol of Afghan and US forces, igniting a tragic firefight between that lasted for 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 advisors conducting a planned night raid outside of Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan Province. The soldiers at the base were unaware that the approaching convoy was friendly."Our forces on the ground, they didn't know about this fact, they started shooting," an Afghan defense 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-defense airstrike on people who were firing at a partnered US-Afghan force," Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, a US military spokesperson, told The New York Times.
"This is an example of the fog of war," she said. "The Afghan and U.S. 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 policemen have turned on coalition forces in so-called "insider" attacks.The firefight lasted for 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 defense ministry has admitted that the Afghan soldiers at Satarman Base fired first.
The destroyed outpost is reportedly on the front lines in the fight against the Taliban, an insurgent force that only a couple of days earlier on Monday had wiped out at 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.