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AFP, September 21, 2007

Six Afghan civilians killed in air strike: governor

More than 700 civilians have been killed this year, around half in Taliban attacks and half in action by Afghan and international military forces.

NATO warplanes killed six Afghan civilians, most of them women and children, in an air strike during a battle with Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan, a district governor told AFP Friday.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) admitted civilians were killed in the attack in the southern province of Helmand but it did not say how many died.

Victim of Musa Qala bombing
A small boy injured by US/NATO bombs during the night of August 25/26, 2007 in Musa Qala (by Abdul Khaleq/ AP)

Photo Gallery of US victims in Afghanistan
The Afghan Victim Memorial Project by Prof. Marc

ISAF said the civilians were killed Wednesday but the district governor said they died Thursday. Despite the confusion, the incident appeared to be same, as both said it had taken place in Gereshk district.

District governor Abdul Manaf told AFP Taliban fighters had been sheltering among villagers, who were being used as "human shields."

"The NATO forces called for air support. At this time the Taliban had fled the area and due to aerial bombing six civilians, mostly women and kids, were killed," he said.

In a statement, the 37-nation ISAF said that Taliban fighters had attacked its soldiers from a compound and an air strike was called in against them.

"ISAF was unaware of civilians in the vicinity of the target and unfortunately it appears that a number of non-combatants were caught in the attack and killed."

The NATO-led coalition said it had opened an investigation into the deaths in Helmand, which is the most violent region in Afghanistan and its main opium-growing area.

"We take every possible precaution to avoid civilian casualties while conducting our operations and we warn people in advance about operations where possible," ISAF spokesman Wing Commander Antony McCord said.

ISAF troops were operating in that part of Helmand as part of a new operation launched on Wednesday to clear Taliban out of the area.

More than 50,000 US- and NATO-led troops are battling the resurgent Taliban Islamist militia and are under pressure from rights groups and the government to avoid civilian deaths during their operations.

More than 700 civilians have been killed this year, around half in Taliban attacks and half in action by Afghan and international military forces.

The Taliban have waged an insurgency since being ousted from power nearly six years ago in a US-led invasion.

Category: Taliban/ISIS/Terrorism, US-NATO, HR Violations - Views: 7782


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