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NATO Air Strike Kills At Least 10 Afghan Civilians

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Photo: ISAF)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (Photo: ISAF)

At least 10 Afghan civilians, including women and children, were reportedly killed in a NATO air strike on Saturday.

The deadly attack occurred in the Watapur district of Kunar province, the Associated Press reports. Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili told reporters the NATO air strike targeted a pickup truck carrying women and children that stopped to pick up Afghan and Arab resistance fighters in the village of Qoro.

“At least four women, four children and two civilian drivers were killed in a NATO airstrike in Wattapur district of Kunar province,” Sayed Khaili said.

The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai  placed the number of dead at 16, all of them women and children. As he has done in the past, Karzai strongly condemned the latest deadly NATO attack.

“Hamid Karzai considers attacking women and children against all accepted international norms and strongly condemns it,” Karzai’s office said in a Sunday statement.

Kunar Provincial Governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala told Agence France-Presse that 12 civilians — four women, four children and four men — were killed, as were four insurgents.

“I can confirm that four armed insurgents belonging to Al-Qaeda were also killed in the airstrike,” Jalala said.

ISAF, the US-led alliance fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan since 2001, said 10 insurgents were killed in the air strike. An ISAF spokesperson said there was no indication that any civilians had been killed.

“We can confirm coalition forces conducted a precision strike yesterday… resulting in 10 enemy forces killed,” ISAF said in a statement. “At this time, we have no reports of any civilian casualties in regards to this incident.”

“We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously,” NATO said in a statement.

The US and NATO often issue initial denials of civilian casualties caused by their forces, but often later acknowledge such deaths and injuries in the face of evidence and public outrage in affected countries.

According to the United Nations, nearly 1,000 civilians were killed and around 2,000 others were wounded in the first half of 2013. The vast majority of civilian casualties have been caused by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and associated forces. As many as 19,000 Afghan civilians have died since the US-led invasion and occupation began in 2001, according to the Costs of War Project.

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