Afghanistan: US bombs Brits

Way to go, guys. From The Guardian, Aug. 25:

Three British troops killed by US jet
An urgent investigation was under way last night into why a US fighter plane killed three British soldiers, and seriously injured two others, after it was called in to support UK troops engaged in a fierce battle with Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan.

In the worst “friendly fire” incident involving British forces in the country, an American F-15 long-range strike aircraft dropped a single 500lb bomb killing the soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment.

The investigation will need to determine whether the accident was the result of a communications or technical failure, why an American rather than a British plane was involved, and why such a relatively big bomb was dropped close to British positions on the ground.

The soldiers were part of a 60-man patrol deployed to disrupt Taliban movements north-west of Kajaki, the site of a hydroelectric dam under repair and potentially significant irrigation projects for Helmand province. At about 6.30pm local time on Thursday the patrol was attacked by Taliban fighters and came under heavy gunfire from several directions.

In a statement yesterday the Ministry of Defence said: “During the intense engagement that ensued, close air support was called in from two US F-15 aircraft to repel the enemy. A single bomb was dropped and it is believed the explosion killed all three soldiers who were declared dead at the scene.”

The next of kin had been informed, the MoD said. The two injured soldiers, including one critically ill, were evacuated by helicopter to the medical facility at Camp Bastion. Nine soldiers from the battalion have been killed in southern Afghanistan over the past four months.

The latest friendly fire deaths are thought to be the second incident involving British soldiers being killed by Americans in Afghanistan. Eight British military personnel have been killed by US fire in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003.

Yesterday’s incident brings the total number of British troops killed while on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 to 73. Fifty have been killed in action.

See our last post on Afghanistan.