47 civilians killed in US airstrike in Afghanistan

July 11th, 2008 - 10:31 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban
Kabul, July 11 (DPA) A team assigned to investigate a US-led airstrike, in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar last week, found that at least 47 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed in the attack, officials said Friday. The investigation also found that “there was no evidence of Taliban or Al Qaeda insurgents present near the area where the incident took place”, said lawmaker Burhanullah Shinwari, the head of the team investigating the Sunday airstrike.

The son of a former key Taliban commander, meanwhile, also died from injuries sustained in a Thursday airstrike, officials said.

The US-led coalition had earlier rejected accusations of killing civilians, saying in a statement that “militants were targeted in Nangarhar province”.

“The investigation report has so far not been presented to President Hamid Karzai but we will convey to the president the message of this area’s people, that they want punishment of those involved in this airstrike,” Shinwari said.

“Thirty-nine victims of this incident were women and children,” he added.

The investigation commission, appointed by Karzai and which included representatives of the Afghan parliament, provincial council, and the interior and defence ministries, visited the area and talked with the victims’ families, Shinwari said.

“The Afghan people cannot afford more civilian casualties. Therefore, we will demand that President Karzai talk with foreign forces to bring an end to such attacks,’ the investigation team head said.

A day before the strike, insurgents fired on a check post in the area of Gurguri, he said, adding, that coalition forces had targeted the area, in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar province, “on incorrect information which resulted in civilian casualties”.

Meanwhile, Omar Haqani, son of Mawlawi Jalaludinn Haqani, once the key commander of the Taliban insurgents, died as a result of injuries sustained Thursday in a coalition air strike in Paktia province, officials said Friday.

“Omar was injured in foreign forces’ airstrike in Satt-u-Kandaw area of the Paktiya province and latter died of serious wounds in a border area of this province,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqani was the insurgents’ key commander in attacks on Afghan and coalition forces in the south-eastern provinces, and was the Taliban regime’s minister of frontiers and tribal affairs.

Meanwhile, two soldiers of the NATO-led international forces were killed and one was wounded when their patrol struck a roadside bomb Thursday in the southeastern province of Paktika, according to a statement released by the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) headquarters in Kabul.

The nationalities of the soldiers have not yet been released.

In another incident, several key insurgent leaders allegedly gathered for a meeting were killed in a foreign forces’ airstrike Wednesday in the restive Kandahar province, the ISAF said in a statement Friday.

The statement did not provide the exact number of insurgents killed in the attack, but said there were no civilian casualties reported.

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