NATO Strike Said to Kill Family in Helmand

Friday, October 2, 2009

KABUL, Oct. 1 --

A NATO airstrike on a compound in southern Afghanistan killed a family of six, a local tribal leader said Thursday, despite orders by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country, to avoid air power if civilians are at risk.

The U.S. military said the airstrike occurred after troops came under fire from the compound late Wednesday.

There were conflicting reports about the attack, which took place in Helmand province, a Taliban stronghold.

A British military spokesman, Lt. Col. Nick Richardson, said there were unconfirmed reports that 12 people were killed -- six children, two women and four insurgents.

Ghulam Mohammad Khan, a tribal leader, said the dead included a farmer, his wife and four children, as well as three "guests." Civilian deaths have been a source of friction between President Hamid Karzai and U.S. military commanders and have infuriated many ordinary Afghans, who say international soldiers use heavy-handed tactics.

Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Logar, a spokesman for the governor said villagers reported that a U.S. operation overnight had killed a shopkeeper and that American troops had wrongly detained three civilians.

-- Associated Press

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