NATO air strike kills eight civilians: Afghan officials

KABUL - A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, in their home in Afghanistan's eastern province of Paktia, Afghan officials said Sunday.

"Eight people, a man, his wife and six of their children, are dead. It was an air strike conducted by NATO. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group," local government spokesman Rohullah Samoon told AFP.

A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the incident.

"It's true. A house was bombed by NATO. A man named Mohammad Sahfee, his wife and six of their innocent children were brutally killed," the official said.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, Lieutenant-Colonel Jimmie Cummings, said ISAF was investigating the claim.

Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan and have often soured relations between President Hamid Karzai and the United States, which leads NATO forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents.

Karzai summoned ISAF commander General John Allen and US ambassador Ryan Crocker to the presidential palace just over two weeks ago to warn that civilian deaths threatened relations.

NATO and US forces in Afghanistan admitted after the meeting that a number of civilians had been killed in two separate air strikes.

A joint statement gave no details of how many civilians died in each incident, but local officials put the total at more than 20, including women and children.

The number of civilians killed in Afghanistan's war has risen steadily each year for the past five years, reaching a record of 3,021 in 2011, the great majority caused by militants, according to UN statistics.

Become a fan on Facebook