NATO has admitted to killing Afghan civilians in a pair of pre-dawn attacks in the remote Nangarhar Province this morning, insisting that somewhere between four and “more than a dozen” civilians had been killed in the attacks.
“Coalition forces deeply regret that our joint operation appears to have resulted in civilian loss of life and we express our sincerest condolences to the families,” insisted Rear Admiral Greg Smith, adding that compensation would be paid. Locals insist that the troops may have killed as many as 32 civilians all told.
The first incident saw NATO helicopters attacking a pair of civilian vehicles on the highway, killing at least eight members of an extended family according to locals. The second attack involved ground troops raiding a family compound. Though troops initially claimed to be looking for “Taliban commanders” and claimed to have engaged in a firefight with them. Though they have admitted civilians were killed in the attack the most recent report still claims 15-20 “insurgents” were killed.
The deaths come just hours after Gen. David Petraeus issued a new order to avoid air strikes near civilians. Officials have faced an uphill battle in trying to reduce the civilian death toll of NATO attacks, as rules admonishing troops from endangering civilians are often condemned as “harming morale.”