| GEO World|
| Nine Afghan troops killed in international air strike|
| Updated at: 0238 PST, Thursday, October 23, 2008|
KABUL: An air strike by international forces mistakenly killed nine Afghan soldiers on Wednesday, the defence ministry said, in the latest in a string of errors to hit the campaign against Taliban militants.
Separately, three soldiers with US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan were killed and a fourth wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the west of the country, the headquarters of US forces in the country said Wednesday.
The US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai condemned the killing of the Afghan soldiers by foreign forces and said such incidents could sap the morale of security forces who are fighting a resurgent Taliban movement.
The US military admitted that coalition forces "may have mistakenly killed and injured" Afghan soldiers in the eastern province of Khost and said it was investigating.
Foreign helicopters accidentally targeted the soldiers as they manned a checkpost in an operation to provide security for voters registering for elections, said Colonel Mohammad Gul, a local spokesman for the Afghan army.
"In an international military air strike at 2:00 am, nine members of the Afghan National Army (ANA) were martyred and three others were injured," a defence ministry statement said.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Greg Julian, announced a joint investigation.
"Initial reports from troops on the ground indicate that this may be a case of mistaken identity on both sides," a statement from his office said.
Afghanistan's defence ministry condemned the incident and pledged to bring the "culprits" to justice.
"Such tragic and painful incidents would weaken the morale of the national security forces and could hamper the national army development," it said.