NATO admits Afghan children deaths

The NATO force in Afghanistan admitted on Monday that several Afghan children died in a bombing raid last week in Kapisa, a northeast province, according to AFP.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the deaths of the eight children on Feb. 8, and ordered an investigation, according to The New York Times.

NATO attacked the insurgents on open ground near the Najrab district of Kapisa, according to Reuters.

Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said that a group of men who were armed and exhibited “unusual behavior” were engaged by coalition aircraft which followed all tactical directives, according to AFP.

However, he said, “additional casualties were discovered and these casualties were young Afghans of varying ages,” and clarified that they cannot confirm or deny a link to the original NATO engagement. Reuters reported Jacobson saying, “Nonetheless, any death of innocents not associated with armed conflict is a tragedy.”

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The Times said Afghan officials who traveled to the village where the strikes took place said the bombing was based on incorrect information. Abdul Mubin Safi, the administrative director of the Kapisa province, said the victims were young boys who were herding sheep less than a half a mile from their homes.

Reuters quoted Mohammad Tahir Safi, a member of parliament who was sent as part of an effort to investigate the airstrike, saying, “Where were the rights for these children who have been violated? Did they have rights or not?”

The United Nations released a report earlier in Feb., stating that more than 3,000 civilians were killed in 2011, according to Voice of America. UN officials estimated that 77 percent of civilian casualties were caused by insurgents and that deaths caused by foreign and government forces dropped by 4 percent.

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