USA air raid kills Afghan police in Helmand

Violet Powell
July 23, 2017

The Taliban controls several districts in Helmand, the largest Afghan province and a major poppy growing region.

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press, Safi said the victims were police officers who were operating with the army in the area.

"Some 300 enemies tried to capture the center of Push-e-Koh district, but they faced strong resistance by the security forces", Mohammad Naser Mehri, spokesman for the governor of Farah said, adding that 12 Taliban fighters were also killed. "An Afghan journalist in Kabul who covered the incident says local forces then rushed in and were hit by another North Atlantic Treaty Organisation strike".

The U.S. military confirmed an airstrike it conducted Friday resulted in the deaths of friendly forces.

"Two other policemen were wounded", Helmand police spokesman Salam Afghan told AFP. Sheikh Haibatullah's son was said to be a Hafiz-e-Quran (one who memorises the Holy Quran by heart) and was known as Hafiz Khalid among his comrades.

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Some reports say at least 10 police officers were killed, while local officials put the figure at 35.

They were at a compound in Helmand's Gereshk district which they had recaptured from the militants when they were hit. It wasn't immediately clear if they had been kidnapped or had escaped.

The area where the fighting took place is inside a mountainous region, which is hard to access and telephone contact is erratic. Taliban have in the past exaggerated their successes and the remoteness of the area made it impossible to independently verify. "An accurate number of casualties and details of the incident will be announced later", said Hayatullah Hayat, the provincial governor of Helmand.

Seven passengers were killed, while another 20 people managed to escape, he said.

NATO's mission in Afghanistan issued a statement.

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