KANDAHAR: A US air raid has killed eight Afghan policemen who were battling the Taliban, officials said on Monday, the first apparent “friendly fire” incident since American forces were given greater powers to strike at insurgents.

The incident happened on Sunday in the Tali area of Uruzgan, where the Taliban recently attempted to overrun the provincial capital Tarin Kot in a major security breach.

“The first air strike killed one policeman. When other policemen came to help, they came under a second air strike, killing seven of them,” Rahimullah Khan, highway police commander in the southern province, told AFP.

“It could not be unintentional,” Khan added.

Mohammad Sediq, a policeman who survived the attack, said their forces were “engaged in close fighting” with the Taliban when they were bombed.

The Nato command centre in Kabul confirmed US warplanes had conducted an air strike in the area, but said they targeted individuals posing a threat to Afghan forces.