Aircraft supporting an operation by American forces in Ghazni , 45 miles SW of Kabul fired on vehicles - unfortunately one was a police vehicle, rushing to investigate an explosion.
This was caused by troops searching houses at 3.30 am local time, for a reported Taliban insurgent. When Afghan District police officers rushed to the scene, a firefight resulted and left 9 Afghan police officers (including District police chief Kamyab ) and a civilian dead and four other police officers and a woman had been wounded according to Habib-u Rahman, deputy chief of the Ghazni provincial council. Reuters report that Dr Ismail Ibrahimzai, the head of the local public health department confirmed these figures.
Protests erupted later with hundreds of Afghan citizens , chanting anti-American slogans, and protesting about the the killings in Ghazni city.
Readers will recall 19 Korean Christian missionaries were kidnapped near Ghazni and negotiations on their release were held in Ghazni with Taliban representatives. They were eventually released on a stretch of desert road eight kilometres south of the city of Ghazni. - one report by AP of the swap of the first 2 Korean women said "Wearing head scarves, khaki pants and traditional Afghan knee-length shirts, the women were driven to the site by an Afghan elder, Haji Zahir, who also got into one of the Red Cross vehicles with the freed hostages. (see pic)
Oddly the NYT report of the US / Afghan firefight says "Hajji Zaher, an elder in Ghazni town, gave this account: “At 3 a.m., when the Americans were searching the houses and when they blew up the gates, the police rushed to the area thinking that they were Taliban. And at the same time the Americans thought that the police were Taliban and there was a firefight.”
Maj. Chris Belcher, the spokesman for the United States military at Bagram Air Base said (NYT)United States forces were conducting a night raid on the compound of a man suspected of being an insurgent and of organizing suicide bombings.
He suggested that those killed were insurgents and said that he had no information on whether they were members of the national police. “I know there were some deaths, but I don’t have a number,” he said.
AP report that Maj. Chris Belcher,Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesman said that 4 police officers were wounded by insurgents and that the coalition was looking into the reports of the police deaths. A Defenselink article quotes him ; "Coalition forces searching several compounds in Ghazni district for a Taliban commander associated with suicide bombings were met with small-arms fire. They returned fire, using a combination of small-arms and aerial-delivered conventional munitions, killing several insurgents.The coalition forces found and detained nine individuals when they continued their search of the area."See also Combine Joint Task Force 82 Press ReleaseWho also have a fascinating article "Reducing collateral damage through better accuracy " about the introduction of The M777A2 155 mm Howitzer with a three man crew , which can fire one round every 10 seconds, maintaining a sustained rate of six rounds per minute, out to a range of 30 kilometers. The weapon systems provides both an extended range and the ability to fire Excalibur (XM982) rounds, new precision guided munitions. The XM982 precision guided extended range artillery projectile is the Army's premier satellite guided fire and forget smart munition. Because of its accuracy and increased effectiveness, the Excalibur XM982 requires fewer rounds to destroy a target, which will also effectively decrease collateral damage.
The International Herald Tribune report states ;
The bodies of the policemen, some showing bullet wounds, were taken to Ghazni's hospital. A video shot by AP Television News showed a bullet-riddled police vehicle close to the area where American troops conducted the operation. The metal gates of compounds raided were damaged, and mud walls on nearby houses had bullet holes in them.
Faced with troop shortages, U.S. and NATO-led troops rely heavily on the use of airpower in their fight against the Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan. Such tactics have caused many civilian casualties in past years, and at times caused friction with President Hamid Karzai, who has urged caution and coordination with Afghan authorities.
Elsewhere AP report a NATO soldier was killed and two others wounded in a roadside bomb blast. Another Canadian soldier was killed and two others were injured in an improvised mine explosion near Kandahar.