U.S airstrikes killed eight Afghan policemen in Uruzgan, a southern province of Afghanistan, on Sunday, September 18th, as well as an extremist Pakistani Taliban official on Sunday, September 25th. The United States carried out the attacks to aid the Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban who came close to capturing the province’s capital. Local and government officials in Kabul have confirmed the U.S airstrikes. The United States also confirmed both airstrikes, but have yet to comment on whether or not the first strikes killed the policemen.
The first airstrikes happened on a highway near the province’s capital, Tirin Kot. Eight policemen were guarding a post on the highway when one of them was struck; when the seven others returned, a foreign aircraft came and killed all of them. Several reports claimed that the reason the eight men were killed was due to the fact that they were wearing civilian clothing while carrying weapons. U.S. forces responded by calling the airstrikes self-defense against, “individuals firing on and posing a threat to our Afghan partner.” Abdul Karim Khadimzai, head of Uruzgan’s provincial council commented, “It was a mistake from the American side. There was bad communication between them and the police,” The U.S military could not confirm the killing of the policemen with Colonel Michael Lawhorn, a spokesman for the U.S. military, saying, “U.S. forces conducted two airstrikes down there against individuals that were firing on Afghan forces. Beyond that I can’t confirm anything.”
A committee was recently appointed to lead the investigation in Uruzgan. The names will remain anonymous for security reasons. Uruzgan was not the only province bombed last Sunday; other regions of the country, including a Kabul province, were also targeted. The province’s security has recently declined since the death of Matiullah Khan, a respected police chief. Khan was killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul last year. He rose to power through tribal politics and was strongly supported by international forces. Afghan forces are responsible for their country’s security against the Taliban, but U.S. forces are authorized to carry out airstrikes to protect Afghan civilians in the 15-year-long Taliban fight.
The airstrike on the 25th happened overnight in the Bermal district of the Patrika province across the Pakistani border. The attack killed a senior commander of the extremist Pakistani Taliban, Azam Tariq, his son, and many of his partners. Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Hazrat Omer Zakhilwal, read a statement confirming the loss. Zakhilwal commented, “The killing of top TIP commander Azam Tariq in an operation by Afghan security in Oaktika is yet another proof that Afghanistan forces is not in business of harboring terrorists as ‘assets’, regardless of who they intend to target, and does not distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ of them.” For security reasons, the U.S military refrained from discussing any further details on this issue. For most Afghans, the attack on Tariq came as a celebration, since the Pakistani Taliban is blamed for the killings of thousands of people in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the last decade.