Sunday, December 10, 2006

Four civilians killed in NATO airstrike in Afghanistan

Kabul, Dec 10: At least four Afghan civilians were killed and one was wounded in a NATO-led airstrike against Taliban insurgents in eastern Afghanistan, a police commander said on Sunday.

The civilians were killed yesterday in an airstrike that was part of a "mid-scale" operation launched this week against militants in Laghman province just east of Kabul, local police chief, Abdul Karim Omeryar said.

"Yes, a house was bombed by NATO planes. I know four people were killed and one was injured -- they were civilians," the police chief said.

He said intelligence reports indicated Taliban fighters were hiding in the house targeted by International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) warplanes in the province's Alishing district.

"But only civilians were in that house. The casualties were also civilians," he said.

The Interior Ministry in Kabul confirmed the operation, codenamed "western hammer" but said it was investigating the civilian deaths.

ISAF also confirmed the raid.

"There was an engagement with a small group of insurgents, (yesterday) in Daulat Shah district. There was close air support. No report on civilian casualties," ISAF spokesman major Dominic Whyte said.

The provincial governor for Laghman, Mohammad Gulab Mangal, has appointed a committee to investigate civilian casualties, an official at his office said.

"We've the police reports that civilians were killed in the NATO airstrike. The Governor has appointed a committee to establish the fact," he said.

Bureau Report

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