NATO apologises for Logar civilian deaths
Two days after the incident, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) acknowledged that civilians were also killed along with several insurgents during the anti-militant operation.
“ISAF confirms that in addition to the insurgents killed during the operation, it’s also responsible for the unintended, but nonetheless tragic, death of Afghan civilians,” a statement from the NATO-led force said.
But the statement did not reveal how many civilians died in the raid. At least 18 civilians, including women and children, died in the raid on June 6 in Baraki Barak district, where families had gathered at a local elder’s house.
Seven insurgents were also killed in the attack. ISAF alleged its troops were trying to capture a Taliban leader believed to be hiding in the house.
To defuse the tension fuelled by the deaths, ISAF commander General John R. Allen flew to Logar to apologise over the incident, the second in less than a month.
“I'm here not only as commander of the coalition forces, but also as a father, to apologise for the tragedy that occurred two days ago. Additionally, I'm committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those we inadvertently harmed, as well as for the community in which they lived,” said Allen.
Late in May, eight members of a family -- a man, his wife and six children -- were killed in a NATO raid in the eastern province of Paktia. NATO admitted civilians died in its attack and apologised.
The purpose of the trip was to personally deliver his condolences to the provincial governor, parliamentarians, provincial council leadership, and village elders.
ISAF continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding this airstrike and remains committed to taking all appropriate actions to minimise the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future, added the statement.
Rising civilians’ deaths at the hands of foreign forces is a thorny issue between coalition forces and President Hamid Karzai’s administration. Karzai who was in Beijing to attend the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit was forced to cut short his trip upon hearing the incident and ordered a probe.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan revealed in its annual report that 3,021 civilians died in the armed conflict, an eight percent rise compared to last year’s 2,790.
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