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Kabul, Afghanistan - A NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters Friday accidentally killed seven civilians, including three children, in the southern province of Helmand, one of the most insecure regions in the country, Afghan officials said. NATO officials are investigating the episode. It occurred in the Now Zad district when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force called in an airstrike on two vehicles believed to be carrying a Taliban leader and his associates. A NATO team assessing the damage discovered the civilians after the airstrike. NATO officials have not disclosed how many civilians were killed and wounded, and did not say whether suspected Taliban were among the casualties.
Afghan officials in Helmand said the dead included two men, two women and three children. Three more children and two adults were wounded, the
Civilian casualties have been one of the most contentious issues in
NATO officials offered only minimal details about the episode Saturday as they investigated. And local authorities in the province were either unreachable or were unaware of the attack because cellphone service has been out in the entire province for much of the last week on orders of the Taliban.
The cellphone disruption has caused chaos for business owners and residents in the province. With a dearth of reliable landlines, the province, like most of the country, has come to rely on mobile networks in recent years.
Dawood Ahmadi, a spokesman for Helmand’s governor, who was in Kandahar on business, said by telephone that he had not been able to get information on the civilian deaths because of the cellphone cutoff.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know what happened in Now Zad district,” he said. He added that the government was trying to get satellite phones to district centers across the province to improve intergovernmental communications.
A United Nations report this month said that 2,777 civilians were killed in
This month alone, NATO airstrikes killed two children, brothers, as they tended their family’s fields, and an additional nine boys as they were collecting firewood.
Both episodes happened in the eastern
Meanwhile, a suicide bomb attempt targeting a border police official in
Sharifullah Sahak contributed reporting.
This article "NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills 7 Civilians, Including 3 Children" originally appeared at The New York Times.
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