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NATO Air Strike Kills 10 Afghan Civilians in Kunar Province

A NATO air strike has killed 10 Afghan civilians, almost all of them women and children, during an attack on a suspected Taliban hideout in Kunar province.

Al Jazeera reports that the strike occurred in Chawgam village, in the Shigal district of Kunar, near the Pakistani border. Provincial police chief Ewaz Mohammad Naziri told the Associated Press that the dead included five children, four women and one man. Four others were reportedly wounded in the attack.

“Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us,” Kunar governor Fazlullah Wahidi told Reuters. Wahidi also said that four Taliban fighters were killed.

Wahidi also said that the local government had not been informed before the strike.

“This operation was by coalition and Afghan forces,” he said. “We were not aware of it.”

A spokesman for the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) told Agence France-Presse that a Taliban commander named Shahpoor was killed in the strike.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement saying he “strongly condemns” the strike and “emphasizes that the fight against terrorism is not in the house and villages of Afghan people.”

The issue of civilian casualties has long strained US-Afghan relations, with Karzai once even threatening to turn on the occupiers or even join the Taliban if the US-led forces did not reduce the number of innocents killed. While such casualties have declined recently, some critics claim the US does not value Afghan life the same as it does American life because the killing of so many innocent men, women and children would not be tolerated if the dead were Americans.

US apologists claim that Taliban fighters operate in close proximity to civilians and point out– correctly– that the vast majority of Afghan civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban and other insurgents.

ISAF spokesman Maj. Adam Wojack told reporters that he was aware of an incident that “matched” reports of the deadly air strike, but that he could not confirm the number of civilians killed.

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

The fatal air strike comes just days after the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child released a report in which it blames the killing of hundreds of Afghan children by US forces on “lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force.”

The strike also came within hours of President Barack Obama’s announcement during his State of the Union address that the US would withdraw 34,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and end the war by the end of 2014.

 

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