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ISAF probes airstrike after two boys killed in Kunar

ISAF probes airstrike after two boys killed in Kunar

Mar 16, 2011 - 19:57

KABULinfo-icon(PANinfo-icon): The NATOinfo-icon-led International Security Assistance Force on Wednesday said an investigation had been opened into yet another air strike that killed two children in eastern Kunar province.

The force had suspended one of its commanders and grounded a helicopter crew involved in the incident, the third such attack in Kunar over the past three months, the force said in a statement.

Local officials on Tuesday said two brothers, aged 10 and 15, were killed in an air strike by NATO-led forces as they watered fields in the Sawakai district late Monday.

The statement issued by ISAFinfo-icon on Wednesday quoted the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistaninfo-icon, Gen. David Petraeus, as saying that a formal investigation into the incident had been launched. The commander had been suspended and the helicopter crew involved had been grounded, it said.

"I cannot overstate how seriously we take all instances of civilian casualties. I take personal interest in every case, and have recently ordered a review of our tactical directive on the use of force by all aircrews of attack helicopters," the statement quoted Petraeus as saying.

"We will take all necessary steps to get to the bottom of this. We know we cannot succeed if we harm the people we are striving to protect."

Petraeus gave testimony to the US Congress in Washington Tuesday, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that there had been successes and setbacks in Afghanistan and that more tough fighting lay ahead.

The latest civilian deaths occurred only weeks after two NATO helicopters gunned down nine boys as they collected firewood in the same province, a restive area bordering Pakistaninfo-icon where foreign forces have stepped up operations in recent weeks.

That incident followed a spate of reported civilian deaths by foreign troops, mainly in the east, and prompted a sharp rebuke from Karzai and a rare and candid apology for the killings by Petraeus.


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