October 17, 2008

Afghans Say Airstrike Killed Civilian

Afghan officials in the Lashkar Gah area claim a NATO airstrike killed 25-30 civilians but NATO officials say they can't confirm civilian casualties.

NATO officials said they are investigating reports but were "unable to confirm any civilian casualties" in the area where Taliban fighters have been fighting NATO troops, The New York Times reported Friday.

Residents claiming they saw Thursday's airstrike said at least 18 bodies, all women and children, were removed from the rubble then taken to the provincial governor's compound in protest, the Times reported.

NATO command has issued a statement confirming that an airstrike took place in the Nadali district, about 10 miles northwest of Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand Province. The command said it expected it would provide more details Friday.

Local officials and residents of Nadali said the airstrike hit three houses where seven families lived after fleeing fighting elsewhere in the district. District Chief Mahboob Khan told the Times in a telephone interview that 18 bodies were removed and as many as 12 bodies still were buried in the debris.