NATO Airstrike Kills 8 Afghan Women

Posted September 16th, 2012 at 4:55 pm (UTC-5)
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The international coalition in Afghanistan has apologized for an airstrike that killed eight civilian women in a remote part of the country.

Sunday's airstrike came shortly before dawn in Laghman province, east of Kabul. Villagers claimed the women were killed while gathering firewood.

The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force initially said an air strike targeted around 45 insurgents, but later extended its “deepest regrets and sympathies” to the families and loved ones of the civilians “unintentionally killed or injured” in the strike.

ISAF said coalition officials said they will soon meet with the family members of the victims.

The deaths followed the third attack in as many days in which members of the Afghan security forces targeted their coalition partners. The coalition said a so-called “insider” attack resulted in the deaths of four U.S. service members in southern Zabul province, bringing the number of coalition forces killed by their Afghan partners this year to 51.

Local authorities say an Afghan police officer was responsible. ISAF officials say they are investigating.

An Afghan police officer gunned down two British solders on Saturday in Helmand province.

Aboard a U.S. military aircraft Sunday, the U.S. military's top officer, Army General Martin Dempsey, said insider attacks are a “very serious threat” to the war effort, and that the Afghan government needs to take the problem as seriously as its U.S. partners.

Separate from the issue of insider attacks, coalition officials say the insurgents who attacked a British military base in Afghanistan Friday were dressed in U.S. Army uniforms and were armed with automatic rifles, rocket propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests.

The coalition says the 15 militants were organized into three teams and “executed a well-coordinated attack” against the airfield on Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

The alliance say the attackers destroyed six Harrier jets and “significantly damaged” two more. The militants also destroyed three coalition refueling stations and damaged six aircraft hangars. Two U.S. Marines died in the assault.

International troops say they killed 14 of the insurgents and wounded one, who is in custody.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.