Officials: NATO Airstrike Kills 8 Afghan Civilians

Posted May 27th, 2012 at 10:20 am (UTC-5)
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Officials in eastern Afghanistan say a NATO airstrike has killed a family of eight.

A government spokesman for Paktia province, Rohullah Samoon, tells VOA that a coalition airstrike late Saturday killed a man, his wife and six children in the Gerda Serai district. He said that according to his information, the man was not linked to any insurgent group or any anti-government activities.

A coalition spokeswoman confirmed that NATO returned fire and requested close air support during clashes with insurgents, but she said they are investigating whether civilians died in the fighting.

Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between President Hamid Karzai's government and the international coalition in Afghanistan. A NATO airstrike in northeastern Kapisa province earlier this year killed eight children. Last year, Afghanistan saw a sharp rise in civilian deaths, with more than three-quarters of the 3,000 fatalities blamed on insurgent attacks and 14 percent attributed to international and Afghan forces.

Earlier this month, the United Nations special representative to Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, said that civilian casualties have gone down by 20 percent in the first four months of 2012, compared to the same period last year. Kubis said insurgent attacks, including suicide bombings, still cause the majority of civilian deaths.