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Afghan Firefight Results in 'Friendly Force' Casualties

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2002 -- American and allied Afghan military forces conducting a raid May 31 mistakenly fired on other friendly Afghan troops, killing two and wounding three, a U.S. military official reported from Afghanistan today.

At about 1 a.m. local time, a U.S. Special Forces element and the allied Afghan troops engaged in a firefight near the village of Khomar Kalay in southeastern Afghanistan, said Maj. Gary Tallman, a public affairs officer with U.S. Army Combined Joint Task Force 180. The fight lasted less than two minutes. No Americans or accompanying Afghans were injured.

The U.S.-Afghan unit was in the area based on intelligence that a Taliban-Al Qaeda meeting was to take place in a compound in the vicinity. The unit went to the area to capture participants once they left the compound after the meeting.

As the raiders approached the compound, they observed through night-vision devices that 10 to 15 armed men were running toward them and taking up fighting positions inside the compound. At that time, the U.S. ground commander decided to wait and let the situation develop.

In a few more minutes, some of the Afghan raiders saw another group of armed men exit the compound and attempt what appeared to them to be a flanking maneuver.

The fight, however, didn't start until a U.S. Special Forces soldier saw a man with a rocket-propelled grenade level the weapon at the U.S. forces, Tallman said. He noted that other members of the accompanying friendly element confirmed the RPG man's position and posture.

Perceiving imminent danger to his forces, Tallman said, the U.S. ground commander ordered his unit to open fire.

Tallman said initial review of the incident found that the men in the compound were actually other friendly Afghan forces sent from nearby Lowgar province by their provincial commander. They had not informed coalition units of their presence, or of their movement to the compound, he said.

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