Asadabad: An Afghan provincial governor on Sunday said 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes against insurgents in the northeast of the country.
The governor of Nuristan, which was the scene of heavy battles last week between the Taliban and Afghan security forces, said the police and civilians were targeted on Wednesday after they were mistaken for militants.
"The policemen were killed due to friendly fire," Jamaluddin Badr told a news agency, adding the air strike in the troubled district of Do Ab targeted a location that the officers "had just" taken from the insurgents during fighting.
"Our initial reporting does not indicate civilian casualties in that air strike," he added.
Civilian casualties in the US-led war against Al-Qaeda-linked Taliban insurgents is a sensitive issue and one of the main causes of a widening drift between President Hamid Karzai and his US backers.
Karzai on Saturday ordered Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak to take over control of night raids from the NATO forces.
Karzai`s administration says most civilian casualties occur during such operations and that night raids of civilian homes drive war-weary Afghans against his already-fragile administration.