NATO mistakenly killed five of its Afghan army allies in an airstrike on Wednesday while the Afghans were attacking insurgents in the country’s east, officials said.

An Afghan defence official condemned the latest “friendly fire” deaths, which came at a time when international troops are trying to improve coordination with Afghan security forces in hopes of handing over more security to them.

The Afghan soldiers were launching a morning ambush against insurgents reportedly on the move in Ghazni province when NATO aircraft began firing on them without warning, Afghan Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said on Wednesday.

Five Afghan soldiers died and two more were wounded, he said.

“This is not the first time such an incident has happened, but we wish that at least this would be the last one,” Gen. Azimi said.

NATO spokesman Josef Blotz confirmed the botched airstrike and said he regretted the deaths. He said a joint investigation has been launched.

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