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A US airstrike killed 16 Afghan police and wounded two others in Helmand province, officials said on Friday. The incident took place yesterday around 5 pm as Afghan security forces were clearing a village of Taliban elements, Salam Afghan, Helmand police spokesman, told AFP. "In the strike, 16 Afghan policemen were killed including two commanders. Two other policemen were wounded," he said. Omar Zwak, Helmand provincial governor spokesman confirmed the strike and gave the same account. The death toll in yesterday's airstrike was determined after a site inspection of the compound in Gereshk District, he said. The United States in a statement confirmed that the airstrike on the Security Forces compound happened during a US-supported operation against Taliban insurgents in the area. In the statement, the US offered its condolences to the families of the security forces who were killed. While much of Helmand province is under the control of Taliban, Afghan national security forces have been waging fierce battles to retake territory.
NATO and US troops are in Helmand to assist Afghan troops.Safi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that the dead were police officers who were operating with the army in the area. He said they had recaptured the post from the Taliban when the airstrike occurred. Yesterday, the Helmand Governor Hayatullah Hayat said it was believed the police officers were not in uniform, which may have resulted in mistakenly identifying them as Taliban fighters. Elsewhere in Afghanistan in northern Badakhshan province, Governor Ahmad Faisal Bigzad said that 11 police were killed and another six wounded during a roaring battle with Taliban insurgents in the remote Tagab region. Bigzad said another 20 members of a local police force were missing following yesterday's firefight. It wasn't immediately clear if they had been kidnapped or had escaped. The area in which the fighting occurred is tucked inside a mountainous region where access is restricted and even telephone contact is erratic.
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