NATO strike kills six Afghan children

NATO strike kills six Afghan children

NATO strike kills six Afghan children

A US soldier greets children during a patrol in Kandahar province. Two adults and their six children killed in incident in Paktia province, according to local officials. REUTERS photo

A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, when it ploughed into their home in eastern Afghanistan, local officials said yesterday.

May 26’s night’s incident in Paktia province threatens to further sour already shaky ties between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers and will likely enrage Afghan civilians weary of years of bloodshed. “Eight people, a man, his wife and six of their children, are dead,” local government spokesman Rohullah Samoon told Agence France-Presse.

“It was an air strike conducted by NATO. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group.” A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the strike and deaths. “It’s true. A house was bombed by NATO. A man named Mohammad Sahfee, his wife and six of their innocent children were brutally killed,” the official said. A spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Lt-Col Jimmie Cummings, said it was investigating the claim. Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan and have often roiled relations between Karzai and the United States.

Karzai, who signed a long-term strategic pact with U.S. President Barack Obama this month, argues that civilian deaths caused by allied troops turn common Afghans against his Western-backed government.

Four NATO soldiers killed

Karzai summoned ISAF commander General John Allen and U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker to protest civilian killings. Meanwhile, four NATO service members were killed in separate roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, the alliance said yesterday. NATO said in a statement that all four deaths occurred May 26.

It provided no other details on the attacks, including the nationalities of the service members. One is thought to be a British soldier killed May 26 in an explosion in the Nahr-e Saraj region of southern Helmand province. Their deaths bring to 33 the number of NATO service members killed so far this month in Afghanistan, for a total of 165 this year.