ISLAMABAD – Authorities in Afghanistan say a coalition airstrike in an eastern province has killed at least eight members of a family. NATO says it is investigating the claim.
The deadly attack took place in Paktia province, where Afghan troops and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force are trying to quell the Taliban insurgency.
Afghan officials say those killed in the coalition airstrike include six children and a woman.
A spokesperson for the coalition force, Lieutenant Liuren Riger, says it is aware of the incident and an investigation is under way to determine the facts. She says fighting in Paktia province erupted a day earlier when a large group of insurgents attacked ISAF troops and the tactic was repeated on Sunday.
“ISAF troops responded to this attack by returning fire and requesting close air support. We are aware of the claims that there were civilian casualties in Paktia province today. Coalition officials are currently looking into the claims and gathering information,” he said.
The Afghan region where latest casualties occurred borders Pakistan and is a known hub for the Taliban, as well as the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network.
A NATO airstrike in the northeastern province of Kapisa earlier this year killed eight children.
Deaths of Afghan civilians in anti-insurgency operations have been a major irritant between President Hamid Karzai’s government and the U.S.-led NATO forces.
The Afghan president has warned that civilian deaths in NATO operations could render as “meaningless” the strategic partnership deal Afghanistan has recently signed with the United States. The civilian deaths took place a day after the Afghan parliament approved the agreement.
Last year, Afghanistan witnessed an unusual spike in civilian deaths – about 3,000. The United Nations attributed 77 percent of the deaths to attacks by the Taliban while 14 percent to actions by international and Afghan forces.
A roadside bomb killed two civilians Sunday in southern Afghanistan, while NATO says similar attacks in the region a day earlier left four international troops dead.