Afghan air raid kills civilians

Women and children are among at least 21 civilians killed in Helmand province.

    Afghans have protested in the past against civilian deaths [AP]

    Nato denial

    James Bays, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan, said Taliban sources were putting the number killed at about 50, while local sources said it was at least 40.

    Bays said Nato had denied any knowledge of the air raid. The US-led coalition said it was checking the report.

    He said there had been intense fighting in Sangin in recent days.

    The claim of civilian casualties is the latest in a string of such incidents which have angered Afghans and prompted Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, to tell the foreign forces in his country to take more care in battle situations.

    Authorities are still investigating an incident in the western province of Herat last month where UN and provincial Afghan investigations have found that about 50 civilians were killed.


    The latest casualties came even as a US commander admitted that civilian deaths in the country were "shameful".

    Colonel John Nicholson, a US brigade commander, apologised on Tuesday to family members of 19 Afghans killed and 50 injured by US forces in an incident more than two months ago.


    "I stand before you today deeply, deeply ashamed and terribly sorry that Americans have killed and wounded innocent Afghan  people," Nicholson said he told the family members.


    "This was a terrible, terrible mistake, and my nation grieves with you for your loss and suffering. We humbly ask for your respect and forgiveness," he said.


    There has been growing anger in Afghanistan over civilian deaths in coalition military operations.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    We visualised 1.2 million votes at the UN since 1946. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the world today?

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.