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Five civilians incl three children killed in NATO Afghan airstrike

Published time: October 05, 2013 12:05
Edited time: October 05, 2013 13:49
Afghan men carry the coffin of a civilian, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noorullah Shirzada)

Afghan men carry the coffin of a civilian, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noorullah Shirzada)

Five civilians, three of whom were children, were killed in an overnight airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, local police said on Saturday. NATO has said it does not know anything about the victims.

The civilians had been going out to hunt birds with air rifles in the Nangarhar province when they were shot down by NATO forces.

“Last night around 11 pm, five civilians aged between 12 and 20 carrying air guns wanted to go hunting birds some eight kilometers from the center of the city of Jalalabad. They were targeted and killed by a foreign forces airstrike,” provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashreqiwal told AFP.

An Afghan man weeps over the death of his brother, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noorullah Shirzada)

The boys were heading there from Saracha, a few kilometers from the city. Their bodies were later taken to the central hospital in Jalalabad.

A NATO spokesperson was unable to confirm the deaths to the agency, but said that he was aware of the airstrike, the news agency reports.

However, a provincial spokesperson, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, confirmed that the incident had taken place, with Mohammed Atif Shinwari, a spokesman for the Nangarhar education department, adding that two of the civilians killed had been brothers. 


Afghan men pray alongside the coffins of civilians, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noorullah Shirzada)

 Deepak Tripathi, an Afghanistan expert from Roehampton University, said the airstrike was part of a pattern of intelligence failure in the country.

“In Afghanistan, every adult carries a gun, or has the ability to acquire a gun. The interesting thing in the latest strike, if the reports are to be believed, is that some of [the victims] were as young as 12 years of age. They were certainly boys if the reports were correct.

It is difficult to differentiate between insurgents and ordinary Afghans, but that’s where intelligence comes in. Afghan security forces, both the army and police, are at the forefront. The Americans are not fighting mainly on the ground. So it is their job to collect accurate intelligence and pass it on before such strikes are launched,”
he said.

An Afghan man looks at the face of relative in a coffin, allegedly killed in a NATO air strike, on the outskirts of Jalalabad in Nangarhar province on October 5, 2013. (AFP Photo / Noorullah Shirzada)

Nationwide NATO strikes resulting in civilian deaths have been an ongoing point of contention in Afghanistan. Although US led NATO operations are winding to a close prior to the withdrawal of troops in 2014, operations have continued to be a sore point.

Last month, 16 civilians were killed in a single airstrike in the eastern province of Kunar. However, NATO denied that civilians had been harmed and said that the strike had hit local militants.

A UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) mid-year report was released in July, and examined the overall protection of civilians in the country. It documented 1,319 civilian deaths and 2,533 injuries as a result of the conflict in the country – a total of 3,852 civilian casualties in the first half of 2013 alone.