Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, has announced that he is suspending a ground forces commander and a helicopter weapons team for attacking and killing two boys, age 10 and 15, in the Kunar Province.
Petraeus insisted that the killing of civilians endangered the success of the war. He also indicated that disciplinary action against the suspended soldiers might yet be taken.
The two children were digging an irrigation ditch for their family’s field at the time of the attack. NATO reported at the time that they were “suspected insurgents” assumed to have been planting an IED in the field.
It was the second time Petraeus has had to apologize for the killing of children in the Kunar Province this month alone, as a previous incident saw helicopters attack and kill nine children for gathering firewood on the side of a mountain.
Despite Petraeus’ comments about the danger of civilian casualties, the number of such incidents has been rising dramatically since he replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander and removed a number of restrictions on air strikes near populated areas.