U.S. airstrikes mistakenly killed at least 12 members of the Afghan National Police force during an operation against the Taliban on Friday, Afghan officials said.
The strikes were targeting a security compound in support of Afghan forces who were fighting Taliban militants, U.S. officials said. At least two other police officers were wounded.
Afghan’s government has intensified a push to gain back territory in Helmand province from the Taliban with the support of NATO and the United States.
Helmand provincial police chief, Abdul Ghafar Safi, told the Associated Press on Saturday that the police officers killed in the strike were working alongside the Afghan army and had taken a post that was previously held by the Taliban before the strike took place. The police officers were reportedly not wearing uniforms, which could have resulted in the errant strike.
Hayatullah Hayat, governor of Helmand province, said the Taliban had recently taken police posts in the area, which could have added to the confusion that led to the errant strikes.
“The police had recaptured a post from the enemy, and it was hit by mistake with the belief that the Taliban fighters were still dug in there after they took the post on Thursday,” Hayat told the Washington Post.