Last Updated 8/23 11:50 AM EST
Just one day after US airstrikes in Laghman province were reported to have killed at least 20 civilians, a much larger incident has occurred on the opposite side of the country in Herat Province.
As with yesterday’s story, the initial US report claimed that 30 militants were killed, including an al-Qaeda commander. Though the Afghan Defense Ministry reported several homes were destroyed and that civilians were among the dead, US officials originally denied that there were any civilians killed, but later revised that number to five.
Shortly later, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry released a statement regarding the incident. In it they announced that 76 people, all civilians, had actually been killed in the strike. Among those killed were seven men, 19 women, and 50 children under the age of 15. The Independent quotes council member Saeed Sharif as saying the victims “were attending a holy Koran recitation” when the bombing began. The Ministry expressed “profound regret” for the killings, which they described as accidental, and promised to dispatch a delegation to conduct a full investigation.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the US attack and said his government would soon announce “necessary measures” to prevent future killings. Meanwhile, an Afghan human rights group sent a researcher to investigate and the preliminary report showed that at least 78 people were killed and 15 houses were destroyed.
In May of last year, US airstrikes in the same region killed over 50 civilians. After the incident, NATO promised to review its military tactics to ensure that similar incidents didn’t happen in the future. An American commander said he was “ashamed” of the incident, and announced that compensation of approximately $2,000 would be paid to each victim’s family.
compiled by Jason Ditz