A district government official in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province is confirming today that NATO attack helicopters targeted a group of civilians in an orchard near the town of Andar, killing four children and wounding three other civilians.
The attack came after unknown insurgents fired on the troops. NATO had initially claimed that all four children killed in the attack were “insurgents” but now says it is investigating the local government’s reports to the contrary.
It is the second major attack invoving civilian deaths this week. On Sunday NATO launched air strikes in two provinces, and despite initially claiming that only “70 Taliban” were killed it was later revealed that one of the strikes had actually hit a civilian target, killing at least 13.
Civilian deaths have been on the rise for months in Afghanistan, with fighting between insurgent and occupation forces taking an increasing toll on those caught in between them. The Afghan government has repeatedly complained about civilian killings by NATO troops, but the recent trend has been toward relaxing the rules of engagement amid claims it was harming morale.