US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said he is "deeply saddened" by the deaths of two USA servicemen, killed in a joint US special operations raid in Afghanistan Thursday.
The governor of Kunduz, Asadullah Omarkhel, said 30 civilians were killed and 46 were wounded in airstrikes, which he attributed to Afghan forces, and he also said four Afghan special operations forces soldiers were killed. Among the dead were women and children. They were accompanied by a large group of protesters from the area that was hit, the village of Boze Qandahari. Two U.S. soldiers were among those killed and two were wounded when they came under enemy fire in Kunduz province, Afghanistan, the U.S. military said Thursday. He said he could not comment on whether their deaths were related to the reported civilian casualties, as family members and local officials contended. An investigation is underway, he said.
U.S. commander Gen. John Nicholson issued a statement after the incidents, offering condolences to the families of the two United States soldiers who were slain. "Today's loss is heartbreaking", he said.
"Despite today's tragic event, we are steadfast in our commitment to help our Afghan partners defend their nation", he added, without disclosing the names of the dead soldiers.
Kunduz became the first city in Afghanistan to fall to the Taliban, for a two-week period a year ago, and early this month, the insurgents almost overran the city again. They blamed Afghan and American forces for indiscriminately bombing residential areas.
The American service members "came under fire" alongside Afghan troops while attempting to "clear a Taliban position" in Kunduz province, military officials said.
That's remarkable, given the enormous USA investment in blood and treasure over the past 15 years, the resilience of the Taliban insurgency and the risk of a collapse of the Afghan government that could force the next president's hands. Two U.S. soldiers and six Afghan soldiers lost their lives during a firefight with Taliban in Kunduz on Thursday.
Western and local officials are trying to determine what went wrong with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation airstrikes during a joint U.S.
Afghan officials say the Taliban often uses civilian localities as shields to conduct insurgent activities.
Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, a petroleum supply specialist with Fort Hood's 3rd Cavalry Regiment, died October 19 in Kabul when a man wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire, also killing an Army civilian employee. As they usually do, the troops called in airstrikes to "break the siege".
Residents carried over a dozen corpses of the dead, including children, towards the local governor's office in a show of rage against the attack.