The US military stopped vehicles carrying “suspected militants,” sparking a clash which left 14 of them dead. The US used helicopters in the fight and seized numerous ammunition belts and small arms from the vehicles… another major victory over the Taliban insurgency in the restive Khost Province.

Or maybe not. In the wake of the clash, Khost Governor Arsala Jamal confirmed that the 14 men killed were all employed as security guards for a road construction company in the province. US military spokesman Col. Greg Julian defended the killings, claiming the guards had weapons not authorized for security guards and “our guys defended themselves.”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai slammed the US coalition over the incident, saying it was unjustified and would “expand the gap” between the Afghan people and his government.

This is the second time in recent days that private security guards for a road construction company in southern Afghanistan have run afoul of US forces. In late October while trying to fend off a Taliban attack on a road crew US forces called in an air strike which killed 24 guards.

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