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March 16, 2007 -- An Afghan official now says Taliban fighters -- not foreign troops -- killed five Afghan policemen in Helmand Province.
Earlier today, the deputy police chief of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan
said five of his officers were killed on March 15 in a shoot-out with
General Isau Khan initially said the NATO troops apparently mistook his officers for Taliban fighters and opened fire on them in Helmand's Gereshk district. He said the officers were traveling in a vehicle that was unusual for police patrols.
But Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said the officers were manning a checkpoint in Gereshk district when the clash broke out.
Later, Khan said an
investigation team sent to the area discovered the policemen were
killed in a Taliban ambush and that NATO soldiers had arrived on the
Gereshk is about 50 kilometers southwest of the Kajaki hydroelectric dam, where a U.S.-funded reconstruction project aims to restore reliable electricity supplies to some 2 million Afghans in nearby Kandahar.
British Royal Marines launched an offensive early this month aimed at removing Taliban strongholds from positions within 150 kilometers of the dam.
NATO officials had no immediate comment about the incident in the Gereshk district.