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U.S. disputes 90 civilians killed in Afghan airstrike

  • Story Highlights
  • Afghans "have lost their patience," says spokesman for country's president
  • U.N. team says 90 people killed, 60 of whom were children
  • Death toll is 30, including five civilians, U.S. military official says
  • U.N. fact-finding team says findings are based on eyewitness reports
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- "Convincing evidence" indicates a U.S. airstrike in Afghanistan last week killed 90 civilians, including 60 children, a U.N. fact-finding human rights team said Tuesday.

The U.N. team said its findings were based on interviews with eyewitnesses.

The Afghan government, which also investigated Friday's incident, announced Sunday it had concluded that more than 90 civilians, most of them children, were killed. The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said 15 Afghans were wounded.

"The Afghan people and the Afghan government have lost their patience," said Humayun Hamidzada, a spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"We cannot see our children being killed in our villages or the killing of innocent people, and our hope and strong request is to reach a new agreement with the international community which clarifies all the conditions, so that in the future, the fight against terrorism should happen in the boundary of law, so that civilians are not affected," he said.

Kai Eide, special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, released a statement saying a U.N. assistance mission team met Monday with the district governor, local elders and residents of the Shindand district of Herat province, in western Afghanistan.

"Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others that some 90 civilians were killed," Eide said.

Fifteen women and 15 men were among those dead, and 15 other civilians were wounded in the airstrike, the team said.

Afghan ministers on Monday demanded a review of international troops within its borders.

While the U.S.-led coalition is still investigating the reports of civilian casualties, a U.S. military official expressed doubt about the high death toll.

The coalition has not confirmed any civilian casualties, citing the ongoing investigation. But the official, who declined to be named, said the strike left 30 dead, including two women and three children.

Eide, in his statement, provided details of the results of the attack.

"The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident, with some seven to eight houses having been totally destroyed, and serious damage to many others. Local residents were able to confirm the number of casualties, including names, age and gender of the victims," he said.

Eide said residents from a number of households in Nawabad village confirmed that foreign and Afghan military personnel came into the area.

"Military operations lasted several hours, during which airstrikes were called in," he said, quoting the residents.

He called the incident a "matter of grave concern to the United Nations," adding that the safety and welfare of civilians must be a top priority in the planning of any military operation.

"The impact of such operations undermines the trust and confidence of the Afghan people in efforts to build a just, peaceful and law-abiding state," Eide added.

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