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NATO investigates report of Afghan civilian deaths

From Nick Paton Walsh, CNN
updated 8:57 AM EST, Fri February 10, 2012
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned what he said was an aerial bombing by foreign forces.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned what he said was an aerial bombing by foreign forces.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An airstrike reportedly killed eight children in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul
  • NATO is investigating the report that its forces were responsible
  • Karzai condemns the deaths and orders Afghan officials to investigate
  • Civilian deaths at the hands of NATO forces have long caused anger in Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- NATO is investigating a report by Afghan authorities that an airstrike by coalition forces killed eight children in Kapisa province this week, it said Friday.

In a statement Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned what he said was an aerial bombing by foreign forces.

The provincial governor reported that eight children were killed in the airstrike Wednesday on a village in Nejra, according to Karzai.

A spokesman for the international coalition confirmed "a situation" Wednesday in Najrab district, in Kapisa province.

"The matter is currently being assessed by a joint assessment team to determine the facts," he said. ISAF spokesman Lt Col Jimmie Cummings said

Lawmakers and representatives from the Afghan defense, and interior ministries, are investigating the bombing, Karzai said

Civilian deaths as a result of action by NATO's International Security Assistance Force have long been a cause of anger in Afghanistan, adding pressure on international forces to withdraw.

Karzai has repeatedly condemned such deaths.

The international force has said avoiding civilian casualties is a high priority.

The number of ISAF-caused civilian deaths decreased by nearly 17% from 2010 to 2011, the coalition force said in its December monthly report.

Insurgents caused more than 85% of civilian deaths and injuries in 2011,according to the report.

ISAF forces continue to work with their Afghan counterparts "to make every effort to protect the Afghan population and ensure that the number of civilian casualties is kept to an absolute minimum," the report says.

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