AFGHANISTAN -- Friends and family confirmed early Tuesday a man from Sprague, Washington was one of five American troops killed in an apparent friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.
Family said Justin Clouse died from his injuries. They described him as a quiet leader and said he would be missed by the Sprague community.
The incident took place Monday when the unit came into contact with enemy forces, the coalition said in a statement. The case is under investigation.
"Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved," the statement said.
The incident comes as U.S. and allied forces are drawing down and turning the fight over to Afghan security forces.
CNN and the Associated Press reported that the fatalities were American.
If confirmed, it would be one of the most serious cases involving coalition on coalition friendly fire during the nearly 14 -ear Afghan war. One of the worst came in April 2002 when four Canadian soldiers were killed when an American F-16 dropped a bomb on them near a night firing exercise in the southern Kandahar.
A senior police official in southern Zabul province said the coalition soldiers may have been killed when they called in for close air support.
Provincial police chief Gen. Ghulam Sakhi Rooghlawanay said there was a joint operation by Afghan and NATO troops in the area's Arghandab district early Monday. After that operation was over, the troops came under attack from the Taliban and called in air support.
Rooghlawanay's account could not be confirmed immediately.
The deaths bring to 36 the number of NATO soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan, with eight service members killed in June.