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5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops with a special operations unit were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were with a special operations unit that they did not identify. Earlier, officials had said all five were special operations-qualified troops, but later an official said their exact affiliation was unclear and one or more may have been a conventional soldier working with the special operations unit.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

Relatives identified two of the five American troops killed Monday.

One of those killed was 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Illinois, who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A cousin said military representatives went to the home of Justin Helton’s parents in Beaver, Ohio, early Tuesday to inform them of their son’s death. Mindy Helton said her cousin specialized in dealing with explosives and was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She said the 25-year-old Helton had been in Afghanistan for about two months and was engaged to be married.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops with a special operations unit were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were with a special operations unit that they did not identify. Earlier, officials had said all five were special operations-qualified troops, but later an official said their exact affiliation was unclear and one or more may have been a conventional soldier working with the special operations unit.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

Relatives identified two of the five American troops killed Monday.

One of those killed was 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Illinois, who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A cousin said military representatives went to the home of Justin Helton’s parents in Beaver, Ohio, early Tuesday to inform them of their son’s death. Mindy Helton said her cousin specialized in dealing with explosives and was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She said the 25-year-old Helton had been in Afghanistan for about two months and was engaged to be married.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops with a special operations unit were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were with a special operations unit that they did not identify. Earlier, officials had said all five were special operations-qualified troops, but later an official said their exact affiliation was unclear and one or more may have been a conventional soldier working with the special operations unit.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

Relatives identified two of the five American troops killed Monday.

One of those killed was 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Illinois, who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A cousin said military representatives went to the home of Justin Helton’s parents in Beaver, Ohio, early Tuesday to inform them of their son’s death. Mindy Helton said her cousin specialized in dealing with explosives and was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She said the 25-year-old Helton had been in Afghanistan for about two months and was engaged to be married.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops with a special operations unit were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were with a special operations unit that they did not identify. Earlier, officials had said all five were special operations-qualified troops, but later an official said their exact affiliation was unclear and one or more may have been a conventional soldier working with the special operations unit.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

Relatives identified two of the five American troops killed Monday.

One of those killed was 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Illinois, who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

A cousin said military representatives went to the home of Justin Helton’s parents in Beaver, Ohio, early Tuesday to inform them of their son’s death. Mindy Helton said her cousin specialized in dealing with explosives and was based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She said the 25-year-old Helton had been in Afghanistan for about two months and was engaged to be married.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops with a special operations unit were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were with a special operations unit that they did not identify. Earlier, officials had said all five were special operations-qualified troops, but later an official said their exact affiliation was unclear and one or more may have been a conventional soldier working with the special operations unit.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

One of the five American troops killed Monday was identified as 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Ill., who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American special operations troops were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

One of the five American troops killed Monday was identified as 19-year-old Aaron Toppen of Mokena, Ill., who had deployed to Afghanistan in March, a month after his father died, according to a family spokeswoman, Jennie Swartz. His family was suffering a “double hit” of grief, Toppen’s sister, Amanda Gralewski, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however, has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press writers Robert Burns and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American special operations troops were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties.

Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002, when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar. In April 2004, former National Football League player Pat Tillman was killed by coalition fire while serving in an Army Ranger unit in one of the most highly publicized cases.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press Writer Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American special operations troops were killed by a U.S. airstrike called in to help them after they were ambushed by the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, in one of the deadliest friendly fire incidents in nearly 14 years of war, officials said Tuesday.

The deaths were a fresh reminder that the conflict is nowhere near over for some U.S. troops, who will keep fighting for at least two more years.

Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday “during a security operation in southern Afghanistan.”

“Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Kirby said in a statement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

The deaths occurred during a joint operation of Afghan and NATO forces in the Arghandab district of southern Zabul province ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff election, said provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay. After the operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

However, special operations forces often come under fire on joint operations and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by President Hamid Karzai, such airstrikes are usually called “in extremis,” when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Airstrikes have long caused tensions between the Afghan government and coalition forces, especially when they cause civilian casualties. Airstrikes that kill coalition soldiers are far less common. One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday’s ambush in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district, and a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of Saturday’s presidential runoff, and officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Of the 30,000 or so U.S. troops left in Afghanistan, special operations forces are among the only ones that are active on the battlefield, mentoring and advising Afghan commandos during raids.

An even smaller group that operates independently of the NATO coalition mandate, which expires at the end of the year, goes after high-value targets including the remnants of al-Qaida. Many of those special forces are likely to remain after the end of 2014, when foreign combat troops leave the country.

Although the U.S. has pledged 9,800 troops will remain until the end of 2016, a bilateral security agreement allowing them to do so has yet to be signed. The two candidates vying to succeed Karzai have said they will sign the deal.

Most of those troops will be training and advising the Afghan army and police, but a small counterterrorism force will still go after high value Jihadists still in the country.

The main opposition candidate, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, has little love for the Taliban and is unlikely to stand in the way of such operations. The other contender, former finance minister and Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, may be more reticent.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Violence against Afghans, however has continued unabated.

Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.

In eastern Ghazni province, insurgents kidnapped 33 university instructors who were travelling to Kabul for a seminar. Kandahar provincial spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal said the 33 were taken by a large group of insurgents and there was no word on their fate. He said all were from the southern province.

Quinn contributed from Cairo. Associated Press Writer Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

One of the worst such friendly fire incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed Monday when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

One of the worst such friendly fire incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed Monday when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five American troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

In Washington, two U.S. defense officials said the five Americans were special operations force members, but they were not more specific. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because notification of the families of the five had not yet been completed.

One of the worst such friendly fire incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter that dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed Monday when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five Americans troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details on the attack.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five Americans troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details on the attack.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five Americans troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details on the attack.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five Americans troops were killed in an apparent coalition airstrike in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, in one of the worst friendly fire incidents involving United States and coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said was an airstrike in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details on the attack.

“Five American troops were killed yesterday during a security operation in southern Afghanistan. Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation,” the coalition said in an earlier announcement.

One of the worst such incidents came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed by an American F-16 jet fighter which dropped a bomb on a group of troops during night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers were killed when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, and then foreign forces called for air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The only U.S. troops now involved in combat operations are usually Special Operations Forces that mentor their Afghan counterparts. They often come under fire and are responsible for calling in air support when needed. Because of constraints placed by outgoing Afghan President Hamid Karzai, such air strikes are usually called “in extremis,” or when troops fear they are about to be killed.

Karzai blamed a similar airstrike called in by special forces mentoring an Afghan operation for killing a dozen civilians during an operation in northern Parwan province. The U.S. military vehemently denied the charge, saying that two civilians were killed in crossfire with Taliban militants and that airstrike was called in when forces thought they were about to be killed by insurgents.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force in Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.

5 US troops killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

KDWN

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Five Americans troops were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident in southern Afghanistan, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday, in one of the worst such incidents involving United States or coalition troops since the start of the nearly 14 year war.

The official insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly to journalists.

The U.S.-led international coalition said the service members were killed in an apparent friendly fire incident, which an Afghan official said took place in southern Zabul province. A statement said all five soldiers died on Monday but did not give further details on the attack or the nationality of the soldiers.

If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition-on-coalition friendly fire during the war.

“The casualties occurred during a security operation when their unit came into contact with enemy forces. Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved. The incident is under investigation. Our thoughts are with the families of those killed during this difficult time,” the coalition said in an announcement.

One of the worst came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed when an American F-16 jet fighter dropped a bomb on a group near a night firing exercise in southern Kandahar.

A senior police official in southern Zabul said the coalition soldiers may have been killed when they called for close air support.

Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area’s Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support, he said.

“After the operation was over on the way back, the joint forces came under the attack of insurgents, then foreign forces called for an air support. Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO air strike,” Rooghlawanay said.

There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay’s comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against the joint force.

The insurgents have intensified attacks on Afghan and foreign forces ahead of the country’s presidential election runoff Saturday. Officials are concerned there could be more violence around the time of the vote, although the first round in April passed relatively peacefully.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said a battle took place on Monday night between foreign troops and Taliban fighters in the Arghandab district. Ahmadi claimed a “huge number” of NATO soldiers were killed or wounded in the fighting. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.

The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.

Casualties have been falling in the U.S.-led military coalition as its forces pull back to allow the Afghan army and police to fight the Taliban insurgency. All combat troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from the country by the end of this year.

Associated Press writers Patrick Quinn in Cairo and Hope Yen in Washington contributed to this report.