Pentagon concedes airstrike killed more civilians

October 9th, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanWashington, Oct 9 (DPA) The number of civilians killed in a US attack on a village in Afghanistan was more than four times higher than previously acknowledged by the US military, the Pentagon has concluded in a report of an investigation.US Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan, said in the report released Wednesday that 33 civilians died in addition to 22 militants in the air raid on Azizabad in western Afghanistan.

The US military said after the Aug 22 attack that only seven civilians had lost their lives. The accidental killing of civilians during military operations has been a source of rising tension
between the US and Afghan governments.

“We are deeply saddened at the loss of innocent life in Azizabad,” said Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, acting chief of Central Command.

“We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties in Afghanistan in all our operations, but as we have seen, all too often, this ruthless enemy routinely surround themselves with
innocents.”

The security situation in Afghanistan has sharply worsened in the last two years as a resurgent Taliban movement has stepped up attacks against US, NATO and Afghan forces.

The Afghan government and a UN report had determined that 90 civilians, including 60 children, died in the Azizabad attack. The
New York Times first reported the finding of the US military report Wednesday.

Dempsey said in the report that US and Afghan soldiers responded appropriately, calling in air support after coming under fire.

Commanders on the ground had correctly identified the source of enemy fire as the target for the airstrike, but “unfortunately and unknown”
to US and Afghan forces, the position was in “close proximity to civilians,” the report said.

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