By Abdul Moeed Hashmi
An airstrike by NATO-led forces killed an Afghan army soldier along with five family members in the Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province, officials and relatives said on Monday.
The soldier, his wife and four children died in a NATO overnight raid in the Qilgha village in eastern Afghanistan. (Photos: RAWA)
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has acknowledged the strike killed and wounded civilians and said it would look into the incident.
The soldier, his wife and four children died in the overnight raid in the Qilgha village, Khogyani district chief, Mohammad Hasan, told Pajhwok Afghan News after visiting the bereaved family.
Hasan identified the soldier as Patang, whose house was mistakenly bombed by foreign troops after they killed three suspected militants planting roadside bombs near the district centre.
The soldier lived with his in-laws in Khogyani, said one of his relatives, Rahimullah. Patang's children -- two sons and two daughters -- were aged between three and eight.
The bodies of Patang, who died on the way to hospital, and his children were taken to his home of Goshta district, while his wife was laid to rest in her ancestral village, said Pasarlay, a resident of the village.
He accused foreign forces of intercepting the vehicle taking the soldier to hospital and keeping it for a couple of hours. "The troops beat us and tied our hands. Meanwhile, Patang died because of excessive bleeding." After an interpreter explained the episode to them, international troops apologised to them, he said.
The issue has been taken up with the authorities in Kabul and with the Jalalabad-based ISAF commander, according to Faridoon Momand, a cousin of the victim and Wolesi Jirga member from Nangarhar.ISAF said it was looking into the airstrikes, which it acknowledged killed and wounded several people.
Coalition forces had seen three militants planting roadside bombs and had fired on them. However, after the strike, they saw three vehicles rushing to hospital and learned that the firing had caused the roof of their compound to collapse.
"This is a deeply regrettable accident," said U. Army Col. Patrick Hynes, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We are investigating this tragic incident to find out how it happened to try and prevent it from happening again. We will meet with local leaders in the area and ensure they understand what happened. Our thoughts and concerns are with the families."
Three days back, more than 60 civilians were killed during joint operations by Afghan forces and foreign troops in neighbouring Kunar province.
Governor Fazlullah Wahidi said on Sunday the dead included 20 women and 29 children or youth. "They were killed in ground offensives and air raids," he said.The bombardments happened in the Argal area of Ghaziabad district. A delegation sent to the site for investigations found that 64 civilians had been killed and many others injured.