NATO attacks kill four civilians, nine policemen in Afghanistan (Lead)

July 20th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kabul, July 20 (DPA) NATO forces botched two separate missions and ended up killing at least four civilians and nine policemen with mortar and rocket attacks in Afghanistan, officials said Sunday. NATO-led soldiers killed at least four civilians and wounded four others in Paktika province in the east, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) admitted.

“The accident occurred last night in the Barmal district of Paktika when an ISAF unit fired two mortar rounds, which landed nearly one kilometre away from the intended target,” an ISAF statement issued in Kabul said.

“Shortly afterwards wounded civilians presented themselves for treatment at an ISAF base, and a helicopter medical evacuation mission was immediately launched to assist,” it said

ISAF soldiers also called for an airstrike during a mistaken clash with their own allies among the Afghan police in the western district of Farah, officials said.

“A convoy of foreign forces were crossing from Anar Derah district, since it was dark, for some unknown reasons they exchanged fire with Afghan police forces stationed in the district,” Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, the western region police spokesman, said.

“Foreign forces called for an airstrike, and eight Afghan police were killed and four others, including the police chief of Anar Derah district, were wounded.” Ahmadi said.

The deputy governor of Farah province Yunus Rasuli said nine policemen were killed and five wounded, but denied that the police chief was among the casualties.

He said the ISAF troops failed to inform Afghan police that they would be crossing the district, and both groups apparently thought the others were insurgents.

NATO and US commands have not commented on the incident.

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