Provincial officials say a NATO air strike carried out in the Kunar Province overnight has killed six civilians, including two children, and wounded 16 others, most of them also children. The attack destroyed three homes in the restive province, and a three year old girl and 10 year old boy were among those killed.
The NATO forces said they attacked the area based on “multiple intelligence source” and said they saw “no evidence of a civilian presence.” Though they maintain all those killed were “enemy fighters,” they acknowledge now that some of the wounded, including a one-year old, may have been civilians. The district police chief says all the casualties, both dead and wounded, were innocent civilians.
The international forces were already under some uncomfortable scrutiny after a raid last week in the nearby Khost Province killed four relatives of an Afghan military officer. In that incident too the international forces initially touted the killings of “combatants” though they eventually conceded that all those killed, including the unborn baby shot in the womb were not believed to to be involved in militant activities.
As violence in the struggling nation continues to rise, US and NATO forces have launched a growing number of raids, and a large portion of them end up killing mostly, or exclusively, innocent civilians. The rising toll has undermined popular support for the military presence and has created a rift between the international forces and the government of President Hamid Karzai.