Thursday November 26th, 2015 11:39PM

US GI's killed by friendly fire

By The Associated Press
KABUL, Afghanistan - 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said the five American troops were killed Monday "during a security operation in southern Afghanistan."<br /> <br /> "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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> "Unfortunately five NATO soldiers and one Afghan army officer were killed mistakenly by NATO airstrike," Rooghlawanay said.<br /> <br /> There was no way to independently confirm Rooghlawanay's comments. The coalition would not comment and NATO headquarters in Brussels also declined to comment.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday's ambush in Zabul.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> Separately, a NATO statement said a service member died Monday as a result of a non-battle injury in eastern Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.<br /> <br /> 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.<br /> <br /> Violence against Afghans, however has continued unabated.<br /> <br /> Insurgents attacked two vehicles carrying civilian de-miners in eastern Logar province, killing eight and wounding three, said provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh.<br /> <br /> 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.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 10 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 1 hour ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 6 days ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Rash of E. coli cases in Pacific Northwest highlights problem of foodborne illnesses
SEATTLE (AP) — As Chipotle prepares to reopen its restaurants in the Pacific Northwest this week after an E. coli outbreak that sickened about 45 people, health experts say foodborne illnesses are mor...
1:40AM ( 2 weeks ago )