U.S. airstrike killed 11 civilians, Afghan President says

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(Colombo Lankapuvath) A U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province killed 11 civilians, including women and children, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Wednesday.

Karzai strongly condemned the airstrike and has sent a government delegation to investigate, a statement from his office said.

The governor of Kunar province said that two women and two children were among the civilians killed in the strike Tuesday night in Narang district and that 12 others, including women and children, were injured.

A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, Maj. Paul L. Greenberg, said it was “currently looking into the circumstances” of the operation in Narang district.

Amnesty International called for a transparent investigation, with victims’ families being kept apprised of developments. Villagers reportedly brought the bodies of their relatives to the provincial capital to show that civilians had been killed, the organization said Wednesday.

An August Amnesty report, “Left in the Dark,” documented how it says previous killings of civilians during U.S. and NATO military operations have not been properly investigated. Attacks that involved likely war crimes, it says, have not led to prosecutions.

“The lack of accountability for killings of civilians by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan sends a message that foreign troops have free rein to commit abuses in Afghanistan and that the lives of Afghan civilians have little or no value,” said Richard Bennett, Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International.

Another airstrike Tuesday night in Dangam district, also in Kunar province, resulted in the death of one armed militant, he said. There were no civilian casualties in that strike.

Most NATO troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of this year as the U.S.-led war effort against the Taliban winds down.


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