A NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five children, on Wednesday, according to local officials. The latest death toll will likely heighten tensions between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the US-led NATO troops.
The strike in eastern Afghanistan was condemned by the country’s president, who also expressed his condolences to the families affected.
Karzai announced that the deaths will be investigated by Afghan authorities, reports Reuters. Karzai released a statement on the atack and reiterated his view on airstrikes, saying:
“In Wednesday’s air strike which was carried out by NATO forces, two houses were targeted where 10 civilians including women and children were martyred and four more wounded.”
Along with the 10 Afghan civilians killed, five more were wounded. The strike also killed four Taliban fighters. Kunar Governor Fazlullah Wahidi added, “Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us.”
Kunar, the province where the airstrike took place, is located on the country’s border with Pakistan. The BBC notes that the NATO- led Isaf force confirmed the reports of civilian deaths, adding that it is “looking into the circumstances” of the incident.
An Afghan government official added:
“It is possible that those killed inside the house were family members of Taliban commanders or that Taliban commanders were taking refuge there.”
Civilian deaths during NATO airstrikes has been a huge source of contention between Afghanistan and the US. President Karzai frequently speaks out in anger over civilian casualties.
A UN report published earlier this month claims that the US has killed hundreds of children in airstrikes over the past four years. The study found that the number of child casualties in 2010-2011 doubled because of a “lack of precautionary measures and use of indiscriminate force.”
Isaf has called the claims “false” and “categorically unfounded.” The latest NATO airstrike to kill civilians came just hours after President Obama announced troop withdrawals for 2013.
[Image by US Army (dodmedia.osd.mil) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]