Friday 20 October 2017

Nato airstrike kills nine civilians, claim Afghan officials

Nato has been accused by Afghan officials of killing civilians in an airstrike that left at least 10 people dead
Nato has been accused by Afghan officials of killing civilians in an airstrike that left at least 10 people dead

Afghan officials have claimed that an apparent Nato airstrike has killed 15 people - nine of them civilians, including women and children - in an eastern province where the Taliban are strong.

Nato officials said that 10 militants died in the strike and that it had no reports of any civilian deaths.

Civilian deaths in Nato operations have long been a sore point between the Afghan government and US-led troops in the country, and they have been a major factor in the animosity many Afghans feel toward foreign forces.

Conflicting accounts of who or how many died also are common, especially when remote, dangerous regions are involved and access by independent observers is restricted.

The latest disputed airstrike occurred in the Watapur district of Kunar province, which lies near the border with Pakistan.

It is a militant stronghold and many Arab and other foreign insurgents are believed to operate there alongside the Afghan Taliban. Some are suspected of links to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the airstrike hit a pick-up truck carrying the women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan militants boarded it Saturday evening.

He said some reports called it a drone strike, but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that. Of the 15 dead, four were women, four were children and one was the driver, the police official said.

Watapur district chief Zalmai Yousefi confirmed the airstrike. He also said 15 people were killed, including women and children.

Nato spokeswoman 1st Lt AnnMarie Annicelli confirmed that the military alliance carried out a "precision strike" that killed 10 "enemy forces", but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying in the airstrike.

Press Association

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