x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Nato air strike kills innocent Afghans

Civilians and police killed in attack were 10 kilometres away from fighting.

KABUL // An air strike by US-led forces mistakenly killed four policemen and two civilians in eastern Afghanistan, an Afghan official said yesterday.

The civilians were two brothers who were in a car that was being searched by the police at a checkpoint when the strike occurred in the Deh Yak district of Ghazni province, according to the district chief, Fazel Ahmad Toolwak. He said Nato troops were fighting Taliban militants about 10 kilometres away, but those killed in the strike were not involved in that battle.

The international coalition said it was looking into the report.

Afghans currently lead about 90 per cent of military operations nationwide as US and other foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014, shifting to a training and advisory role.

The Afghan troops remain heavily dependent on the coalition for air support and medical evacuations in areas where the Taliban and other militants live among the population and often enjoy local support. However, anger over reports that 10 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in an air strike in February prompted the president, Hamid Karzai, to order Afghan security forces to stop requesting air strikes.

A Nato spokesman, US army Major Adam Wojack, said the international military coalition was assessing what happened in Ghazni.

"We are aware of local reports about an alleged air strike in Ghazni province yesterday, in which several individuals were reportedly killed," he said in an email.

According to a recent report by the United Nations, 2,754 Afghan civilians were killed last year, down 12 per cent from 3,131 in 2011. But the number killed in the second half of last year rose, suggesting that Afghanistan is likely to face more violence.

* Associated Press and Agence France-Press