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Seven Afghan security forces killed in NATO airstrike: Govt

Seven members of the Afghan security forces were killed in a NATO air strike in remote western Afghanistan, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

world Updated: Nov 07, 2009 19:57 IST

Seven members of the Afghan security forces were killed in a NATO air strike in remote western Afghanistan, the defence ministry said on Saturday.

"Due to a NATO forces air strike on November 6 in Badghis province seven Afghan security personnel (both Afghan army and national police) were martyred and also some were wounded," the ministry said in a statement.

"The commando brigade informs us that foreign forces also sustained some casualties," it said, adding: "The issue is under investigation by Afghan and NATO forces and the results will be announced soon."

The statement came as NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was investigating an incident Friday in which more than 25 international and Afghan forces were killed or wounded.

Five of the wounded were US soldiers, injured in what a Western military official, speaking anonymously, said was friendly fire.

However, ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Vician, of the US Air Force, told AFP: "We have nothing to confirm friendly fire."

"No ISAF members were killed," he said, confirming that five injured ISAF soldiers were Americans.

A later ISAF statement said "ISAF and Afghan authorities are currently investigating whether some of the casualties were caused by ISAF close air support."

It said the incident occurred during a clash involving ISAF and Afghan soldiers searching for two soldiers who went missing Wednesday while attempting to recover airdropped supplies from a river in western Afghanistan.

The casualties came "during a joint operation that involved multiple engagements over several hours yesterday" in the west of the country, it said.

The missing soldiers were paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.

Local police said a party looking for the two missing soldiers clashed with Taliban and that alliance aircraft were called in to provide support.

Police said the casualties occurred when the air strike mistakenly targeted international troops.

The Western military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told AFP it appeared to be a "blue-on-blue incident," or friendly fire, with "a huge number of casualties."

NATO began its search operation in the barren, rugged area together with Afghan forces after the two paratroopers disappeared.

Afghan police said the two drowned while trying to retrieve cartons of food that had been dropped into a river.

Reports indicate that four Afghan soldiers and three police were killed in action, along with one Afghan civilian working with the Afghan National Army, ISAF said.