NATO air strike kills six children: Afghan officials

Kabul, May 27: A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, when it ploughed into their home in eastern Afghanistan, local officials said today.

Yesterday night's incident in Paktia province threatens to further sour already shaky ties between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers and will likely enrage Afghan civilians weary of years of bloodshed.

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

A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the strike and deaths. "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 (ISAF), Lt-Col Jimmie Cummings, said it was investigating the claim. Civilian casualties are a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan and have often roiled relations between Karzai and the United States, which leads NATO forces in the fight against Taliban insurgents.

Karzai, who signed a long-term strategic pact with President Barack Obama this month, argues that civilian deaths caused by allied troops turn common Afghans against his Western-backed government.

Karzai summoned ISAF commander General John Allen and US ambassador Ryan Crocker to the presidential palace just over two weeks ago after a number of civilians were killed in NATO airstrikes.


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