NATO blames communications error for airstrike that mistakenly killed 6 Afghan soldiers

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The international force in Afghanistan says a communications error was to blame for the deaths of six Afghan soldiers in a botched NATO airstrike.

A coalition statement Friday says a joint investigation found that the Afghan army unit gave the wrong location to international forces Tuesday when it reported it would be operating in Ghazni province in the east.

It said when a NATO helicopter patrol noticed people digging beside a road where makeshift mines were a problem, the crew was cleared for an airstrike because the headquarters believed the Afghan soldiers were in another area of the province.

NATO has apologized for the "friendly fire" deaths. The coalition has made improved coordination with Afghan forces a priority in the war against the Taliban.