Afghan officials and local residents say that a US air strike struck an Afghan wedding party on Monday, killing at least 40 civilians and wounding 28 others (including the bride). The strike occurred in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar Province. Reporters on the scene say that villagers are still search the debris for survivors, and the toll is expected to rise even further.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned that bombings were not the way to win the war on terrorism, and said he hoped President-elect Obama would make it a priority to stop killing Afghan civilians. US spokesman Commander Jeff Bender said an investigation is ongoing, and “if innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences.”
This is the largest incident of US-inflicted civilian casualties in Afghanistan in over two months. In late August, a US air strike in Herat Province killed 90 civilians and led to an increase in tensions between the Afghan government and the international forces.
The Herat strike was based on a false tip, according to the Afghan government. This strike came after US-led troops came under fire in the hilly area, but it is not as of yet clear why the wedding party ended up being the target of the air strike.