Politics

NATO Airstrike Kills Civilians in Province of Kunar, Afghan Officials Say

| by Dominic Kelly
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Officials in Afghanistan have alleged that civilians, including some women and children, have been killed in an airstrike led by NATO in the eastern Afghan province of Kunar.  

There are varying reports, however, of exactly how many civilians may have been killed, with some saying that there could be up to 15. NATO, however, says 10 “enemy forces” were killed in strike, but that there were no civilian casualties at all.

First Lieutenant of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) AnnMarie Annicelli said in a statement that they are refuting any claims that Afghan civilians were killed during the airstrike.

“We can confirm that we undertook a precision strike in Watarpur district of Kunar, and are able to confirm 10 enemy forces killed,” said Annicelli in the statement.

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Still, Kunar Police Chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khil told the AFP news in Afghanistan that civilians were absolutely killed, as well as four Al Qaeda insurgents.

The airstrike, which apparently happened around 5 p.m., was targeting the truck that contained the four insurgents in the rural district of Watarpur. According to Afghani officials, the civilians killed in the process included at least three women and four children.

The province of Kunar, where the airstrike occurred, is considered a transit hub for foreign instruments, including Al Qaeda members who are fighting alongside the Taliban.

Resident of the Watarpur district where the attack occurred Ziarat Gul said that the attack on the truck was unwarranted.

“They should not have attacked the truck because of three or four insurgents, the lives of the civilians were more important and precious,” Gul stated.

In the past, strikes that have killed civilians in Afghanistan have caused uproar in the country, with Afghan President Hamid Karzai being very outspoken against the attacks. Karzai has even gone so far as to ban his forces from requesting NATO strikes during operations in residential areas.

According to UN reports, nearly 1,000 civilians were killed and almost 2,000 injured in the first half of 2013, showing a 23 percent increase from the same time last year.