More than 25 international and Afghan troops were wounded Friday in western Afghanistan — possibly by friendly fire — during a search operation for two U.S. Army paratroopers who had gone missing, according to the military.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan initially said that the troops conducting the search had been injured by insurgents. But a spokesman later said that officials were investigating the incident and had not ruled out the possibility of friendly fire.
“With this large number of wounded, we are looking at all possibilities to try to figure out what is going on,” said the spokesman, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerome Baysmore. “We are looking at all sides of this.”
The two paratroopers, both from the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, went missing during a “routine resupply mission,” according to ISAF. Wire service reports said that the soldiers disappeared in the northwestern province of Badghis and that troops conducting an extensive search for them were then hit by NATO aircraft.
The wounded were treated on the scene and then flown to a military hospital, according to an ISAF statement.
“We are committed to taking every measure possible to rescue or recover our missing service members. We continue to do everything we can to find them,” said U.S. Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, a military spokesperson.
Brigade operations officer Lt. Col. Guy Jones said brigade personnel in the United States are “doing everything they can to support the families during this difficult time while we continue the search with our Afghan and coalition partners.”