LASHKAR GAH, Jul. 23 (Press Shia Agency) – Sixteen Afghan police personnel were killed in Friday’s U.S.-led coalition forces airstrike which accidentally struck their position in southern Helmand province, the provincial government confirmed on Saturday.

“The incident occurred during an operation against Taliban militants in Par Chawa locality of Gereshk district Friday afternoon. And an investigation has been launched into the incident to determine the facts behind the regrettable incident,” said a government statement.

The district, laying in north of provincial capital Lashkar Gah city, has been the scene of heavy clashes between security forces and Taliban since early Thursday after Taliban attacked security checkpoints with suicide car bombs and heavy weapons.

The bombing took place shortly after Afghan forces captured several areas from militants in the restive district, local officials said.

US military also confirmed the incident in a statement released here overnight, saying that “we would like to express our deepest condolences to the families affected by this unfortunate incident.”

Helmand, notorious for poppy growing, is also a known Taliban stronghold.

Such incidents had also happened in the past. Two police were killed and four others wounded in similar incident in outskirts of Lashkar Gah late last month.

The Taliban-led insurgency has been on the rampage since late April when the Taliban launched its annual rebel offensive and intensified attacks across the country.

XINHUA/Press Shia Agency