The airstrike was targeting what the USA thought was a Taliban compound in Helmand's Gereshk District, but was actually a site used by Afghan security forces to meet and plan operations against the Taliban.
A Taliban statement meanwhile claimed a victory and said 16 Afghan soldiers were killed. In the statement, the USA offered its condolences to the families of the security forces who were killed.
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Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri says during the fighting a security outpost was hit by missiles fired by a US drone late Friday afternoon.
Among the Taliban fighters killed in fighting in Helmand's Gereshk district was Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhunzada's 25-year-old son Hafiz Abdur Rahman Khalid, according to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Among the dead were two commanders of the Afghan national police, Nasir and Mohammad Wali, locally renowned for their longstanding fight against the Taliban.
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Earlier this week, Afghan forces backed by USA air power and military advisers recaptured the Nawa district near the provincial capital of Lashkargah, nine months after the Taliban had overrun it.
Khpolwak said the buses were travelling from Kandahar's Shah Wali Kot District to neighbouring Uruzgan province when they came under attack. Since the worldwide drawdown in 2014, the Taliban has seized territory across the province, leaving the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, and the economic hub, Gereshk, as some of the only areas still in government hands. Claims of his attack were made in separate notes.
Local officials said 20 more officers are missing and that it wasn't clear if they had been kidnapped or if they had escaped. Officials issued a statement calling the deaths "unfortunate" and pledged an investigation to "determine the specific circumstances that led to this incident".
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