Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Nato hit kills two in Afghanistan

Two people have been killed in an air strike by a Nato helicopter in northern Afghanistan

A Nato helicopter has opened fire on a convoy of cars heading to an event hosted by the head of a local council in northern Afghanistan, killing a police officer and the brother of a politician.

The chief of police, the governor and the head of the provincial council of Faryab province all said the helicopter strafed one car in the convoy, killing a policeman and Mohammad Aminuddin, the brother of former parliament member Sarajuddin Mozafari.

Police chief Khalil Andarabi said two policemen and a civilian were also wounded in the strike.

Nato said it is investigating "the inadvertent death of two individuals and the wounding of two others" in an operation it had conducted in Faryab in an attempt to intercept suspected insurgents. It did not mention whether the operation involved helicopters.

"While we take extraordinary care in conducting operations to avoid civilian casualties, unfortunately in this instance it appears innocent men were mistakenly targeted," US Air Force Colonel James Dawkins said in a coalition statement, adding that "we deeply regret this incident".

The strike in Faryab occurred on the main road about three miles outside the provincial capital, Maimana, as a convoy of cars headed to a lunch hosted by the head of a local council, according to Faryab governor Abdul Haq Shafaq and the other officials involved.

Mr Shafaq, who had been among the guests, said he had just driven by the area when he heard the helicopter firing and turned back.

"I myself helped with the body and the injured," he said. He claimed three helicopters had been flying over the convoy, and one of them then landed and evacuated two of the injured.