US ‘killed 47 Afghan civilians’

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BBC News | July 11, 2008

A US air strike in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed 47 civilians, 39 of them women and children, an Afghan government investigating team says.

Reports at the time said that 20 people were killed in the airstrike in Nangarhar province. The US military said they were militants.

But local people said the dead were wedding party guests.

Correspondents say the issue of civilian casualties is hugely sensitive in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai has said that no civilian casualty is acceptable.

Demand for trial

Mr Karzai set up a nine-man commission to look into Sunday’s incident.

The commission is headed by Senate deputy speaker, Burhanullah Shinwari whose constituency is in Nangarhar province. He told the BBC: ”Our investigation found out that 47 civilians (were killed) by the American bombing and nine others injured.

“There are 39 women and children” among those killed, he said. The eight other people who died were “between the ages of 14 and 18″.

A spokeswoman for the US coalition, Lt Rumi Nielson-Green told the AFP news agency that the force was also investigating the incident and regretted any loss of civilian life. “We never target non-combatants. We do go to great length to avoid civilian casualties,” she said.

At the time the US said that those killed were militants involved in previous mortar attacks on a Nato base.

The incident happened in the remote district of Deh Bala, close to the Afghan border.

Mirwais Yasini, deputy speaker for the lower house of parliament, also has his constituency in Nangarhar. ”We are very sad about the killings in Deh Bala. People should be compensated,” he told the BBC.

“These operations widen the gap between the people and the government.”

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This article was posted: Friday, July 11, 2008 at 3:36 pm







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