Saturday 20 January 2018

Family of eight killed in Afghanistan air strike

Afghan President Hamid Karzai
Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Ben Farmer in Kabul

NATO has started an investigation after a family of eight – including six children – were killed in an air strike in Afghanistan, according to local officials.

President Hamid Karzai ordered his own inquiry into the incident, after the governor of the eastern Paktia province complained that the air strike was conducted without consulting Afghan forces.

A coalition spokesman confirmed that American troops in the area had been in a fire fight at the time and had called in an air strike from a jet.

Civilian deaths from Nato operations are a source of deep strain in relations between Mr Karzai and his foreign allies and have turned many Afghans against the coalition.

Rohullah Samoon, a spokesman for the governor of Paktia, said the air strike hit a house in a village called Suri Kheyl, Gerda Seri district, at about 8pm on Saturday.

A man called Mohammad Shafi, his wife and their six children were all killed in the blast. "He was not in the Taliban, he had no links to the Taliban, he was just a local man," Mr Samoon said.

A coalition spokesman said troops had been attacked by a "large group of insurgents".

"They did request and receive close air support from a fixed-wing aircraft. Coalition officials are working to determine if those troops in contact and that close air support mission are related to the claims coming from Paktia," he said.

According to United Nations estimates, 410 civilians were killed by coalition or government troops in 2011, down from 427 the previous year.

Irish Independent

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