September 7, 2015 / 7:44 PM / 4 years ago

Afghans say police killed by coalition air strike in Helmand

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan (Reuters) - An air strike by U.S.-led coalition forces has killed Afghan counter-narcotics police in a “friendly fire” incident in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said on Monday.

Police said the air strike took place on Sunday and at least 13 bodies had been recovered from the scene, in a remote district close to the border with Kandahar province.

“Counter-narcotics police were operating in Rig district in Helmand yesterday when there was an air strike, which resulted in the deaths of a number of policeman,” said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand’s governor.

U.S. forces denied they had conducted air strikes in Helmand on Sunday, but said they bombed neighboring Kandahar province the same day. They declined to comment on whether the air strikes had killed Afghan police.

Helmand province is Afghanistan’s major opium-producing center.

Zwak said the incident was under investigation and it was too early to say how exactly how many had been killed.

Local officials said 13 bodies had been taken to the provincial capital Lashkar Gah by Monday evening, but more could have been left at the site.

In July, at least eight Afghan soldiers were killed by a U.S. air strike in Logar province, south of the capital Kabul.

The Afghan interior ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Mirwais Harooni and Jessica Donati; editing by Andrew Roche

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