A NATO air-strike on supposed Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan has killed dozens of civilians, including women, children and a Muslim cleric, Afghan officials charged June 22. The clash began the previous night when Taliban fighters attacked NATO troops in the Gereshk district of Helmand province and then fled to a residential area, said Mohammed Anwar Esaqzai, a local member of parliament. After a firefight of several hours, he said, NATO forces called in an airstrike that killed 36 civilians belonging to three families. “This is happening a lot,” Esaqzai said. “If it continues to happen, it will raise the anger of the people and cause big problems for NATO.”
NATO officials said Taliban fighters were killed in the air-strike, but acknowledged that civilians might be among the dead as well. They charged the Taliban is deliberately putting civilians in harm’s way to provoke a backlash against the international forces. (WP, June 23)
As we have noted, deadly air-strikes by NATO and Coalition forces in Afghanistan have apparently even begun to spill acorss the border to the territory of US ally Pakistan.