Five Afghan children killed in Australian-Taliban clash

February 13th, 2009 - 7:41 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanSydney, Feb 13 (DPA) Five Afghan children were killed when Australian soldiers shot back after coming under fire from Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, the Australian Defence Force said Friday.
“Current reporting indicates, … sadly, local nationals, including five children, killed and two children and two adults injured,” a military statement said of Thursday’s attack in Uruzgan province, which occurred while the Australian forces were clearing compounds as they searched for militants.

A suspected Taliban insurgent was also killed in the firefight, which occurred the same day that US special envoy Richard Holbrooke arrived in Afghanistan on a fact-finding tour to discuss strategies with Pakistani and Afghan leaders in the fight against the resurgent Taliban.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, of which Australia is a member, said Friday’s operation had targeted the regional Taliban leadership and the injured were taken to an ISAF hospital.

About 1,000 Australian troops are stationed in Uruzgan, where ISAF troops are under Dutch command.

The US military also reported overnight that another firefight in the province Thursday killed a soldier serving in the US-led coalition and wounded an Afghan soldier.

It added that after a clash Tuesday in Uruzgan in which a girl was caught in the crossfire and killed, military leaders met with village elders. The elders agreed that the girl would not have been killed had the Taliban not attacked a coalition convoy, the US military said.

Civilian casualties in foreign military operations have caused growing consternation within Afghanistan’s government and among its population. President Hamid Karzai and the United Nations have repeatedly demanded that international forces exercise greater caution.

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