Afghan soldiers killed in U.S. air strikes

KABUL (Reuters) - At least five Afghan soldiers were killed and 10 injured in air strikes conducted by U.S. forces in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan on Wednesday, Afghan officials said, in an apparent case of friendly fire.

The Defence Ministry said in a statement giving the casualty numbers the Afghan soldiers had been patrolling a checkpoint.

“This attack was caused due to lack of proper coordination,” a ministry official told Reuters.

The NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul said the United States conducted precision self-defense air strikes on people firing on Afghan and American forces who were conducting a ground movement near an Afghan army checkpoint.

It did not confirm or deny the air strikes caused casualties.

“The strikes were conducted after Afghan and U.S. forces came under effective small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire and (they) requested air support in self-defense,” said Debra Richardson, a mission spokeswoman.

“It was in the fog of war,” she said.

About 17,000 foreign troops were based in Afghanistan in March as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations with Afghan forces battling the Taliban, which was ousted from power in 2001.

A member of the provincial council in Uruzgan, Mohammad Zaher Khan Naderi said seven members of the Afghan army were killed and 10 were injured in the bombing.

Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Rupam Jain; Editing by Alison Williams