The attack comes just two days after the 2,000th American died in Afghanistan in a clash between US and Afghan soldiers southwest of Kabul. The attack, which appears to have been the result of a misunderstanding after a US patrol was fired upon, ended in the deaths of two Americans – a soldier and a civilian contractor – and three Afghans. The New York Times reports that while initially described as a "green-on-blue" insider attack, the incident may have been a more traditional friendly-fire episode.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the governor in Wardak Province, where the fighting occurred, said the deaths came “after a clash ensued between two sides following a misunderstanding.” An Afghan official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to release details, said that a mortar shell had landed amid the American unit, killing a soldier and a civilian contractor and wounding several others. The Americans thought it came from a nearby Afghan National Army checkpoint on a hill overhead and attacked it with small arms and rockets, killing three and wounding three of the seven soldiers there, the official said.
The Wardak provincial police chief, Abdul Qayoum Baqizoi, said the fight broke out when an Afghan soldier among seven soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire on the Americans; in the ensuing gun battle, three Afghan soldiers were killed, including the one who fired first. “We still don’t have a clear picture of what happened,” Mr. Baqizoi said. He quoted the lone Afghan soldier who was unhurt as saying, “ ‘I heard some noise and verbal argument and suddenly heard the shooting and then one of the coalition soldiers threw a hand grenade so I fled from the check post and hid myself behind our Humvee.’ ”
The Times notes that the US unit was small and not partnered with any Afghan forces, which may have exacerbated the confusion.