'Many dead' in Afghan Air Strike

From BBC news

American officials in Afghanistan have confirmed that a number of civilians have been killed in an air strike. The incident happened in

Kandahar province late on Tuesday evening when a wedding party was bombed.

A local member of parliament told the BBC that as many as 38 people may have died. Details are still emerging. President Karzai has repeatedly criticised the high level of civilian casualties from coalition bombings and called on Barack Obama to stop them. The latest incident underlines the challenges ahead for US President-elect and future commander-in-chief.

Both the US military and local sources have confirmed that a number of people died and were injured in the air strike which happened in a remote part of Kandahar province, in an area where the Taleban are known to operate.

An American military spokesman said he was certain there were civilian casualties and expressed sorrow for what had happened. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that such incidents should not be allowed to happen.

"Our demand is that there will be no civilian casualties in Afghanistan. We cannot win the fight against terrorism with air strikes," he said. "This is my first demand of the new president of the United States - to put an end to civilian casualties." An investigation is under way into what went wrong.

A local MP said women and children were among the dead. He has been told by villagers that 38 people were killed and more than 40 taken to Kandahar hospital for treatment, although the exact number of casualties has yet to be established.

The issue of civilian casualties is hugely controversial Correspondents say that civilian casualties are hugely damaging to foreign forces trying to wage a "hearts and minds" campaign in Afghanistan. Last month the US military said that air strikes on 22 August killed 33 Afghan civilians, many more than previously acknowledged. And in what correspondents say is another notorious incident, an Afghan parliamentary investigation in July found that a US air strike in the same month killed 47 civilians in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Regional officials said those casualties were also attending a wedding party and that the bride had been killed. Figures released in September by the United Nations said there had been a sharp increase in the number of civilian casualties - some caused by the coalition but most by the Taleban - in Afghanistan in 2008. It said that from January to August 2008, 1,445 civilians were killed - a rise of 39% on the same period last year.
Main Reports on Protest & Resistance 'Many dead' in Afghan Air Strike


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