NATO confirmed an incident in the area but claimed to be fighting Taliban when a motorcycle “entered the engagement area.” Local officials say the troops were firing indiscriminately and killed the students on the motorcycle, while NATO insists it could have been the Taliban’s fault and that they couldn’t confirm the condition of the two civilians. They have promised an investigation.
A growing number of attacks resulting in the deaths of Afghan civilians in general and children in particular have been reported over the past few weeks. The rise has coincided with the replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was obsessed with reducing civlian deaths, with Gen. David Petraeus, though the official rules of engagement have not been greatly revised as of yet.
At the same time NATO officials have claimed a “sharp decline” in civilian deaths, though their data is clearly dubious and shows dramatically lower figures than those from the UN or from human rights groups. Civilian deaths have been fueling growing opposition to the US-led occupation of Afghanistan, entering its 10th year.
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