At Least 100 Killed in Afghanistan Violence; 7 Children Dead in Airstrike
Among the dead are 60 civilians killed in NATO clashes with the Taliban, said Mullah Ahmidullah Khan, a provincial official from Afghanistan’s southern province of Uruzgan, according to Reuters. NATO has not confirmed any body counts.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly called for foreign troops to cut civilian casualties during clashes or raids, and last month told NATO and U.S. officials he could no longer tolerate civilian deaths caused by international military operations.
Earlier Monday, the coalition released a statement about the children killed in the U.S.-led airstrike targeting a compound in eastern Afghanistan that included a mosque and a madrassa, a religious school.
“We are truly sorry for the innocent lives lost in this attack,” said coalition spokesman Major Chris Belcher. “We had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building.”
Belcher accused al-Qaida of using innocent civilians to shield themselves.
The airstrike followed a suicide bombing that destroyed a bus full of police instructors in Kabul on Sunday, killing 35 people. It was the deadliest attack carried out by the Taliban since its fall from power in 2001.
June’s violence has been the worst this year, after NATO troops used preemptive attacks to hold off Taliban plans for a violent spring offensive.
The NATO force in Afghanistan is about 37,000 soldiers, including 15,000 U.S. service personnel. The United States also has about 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan for anti-terrorism operations, according to Bloomberg News.