NATO airstrike 'kills Afghan civilians'

Ten civilians, mostly women and children, among the victims of a bombing in Kunar province, local officials say.

    A NATO airstrike has killed 10 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, in a raid on a suspected Taliban hideout in eastern Afghanistan, local officials have said.

    The strike, in the Shigal district of Kunar province, was confirmed by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). A spokesman said the alliance could not confirm civilian casualties.

    "Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us," Kunar governor Fazlullah Wahidi told the Reuters news agency.

    Four Taliban fighters were also killed in the strike and five civilians wounded, he said.

    A spokesman for ISAF told the AFP news agency that one of the fighters killed was a commander named Shahpoor.

    The strike occurred in the village of Chawgam and the 10 dead civilians were from two local families, Wahidi said.

    'Assessing the incident'

    Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for ISAF, said he was aware of an incident which "matched" the report from Kunar, but he could not confirm casualty numbers.

    "We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and we are currently assessing the incident to determine more facts," Wojack said.

    ISAF often says that it has reduced civilian casualties in recent years, and that fighters are now responsible for 84 per cent of all such deaths and injuries.

    The airstrike came within hours of US President Barack Obama's declaration that he would be withdrawing half the US troops in Afghanistan, 34,000 in all, by the end of this year.  

    That would be followed by further troop withdrawals next year which would lead to the end of the US war in Afghanistan, he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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