ASADABAD/KABUL - At least ten civilians have been killed in a NATO airstrike on a pickup truck carrying women and children in eastern Afghanistan, Afghan provincial officials said Sunday.
ISAF said 10 enemy forces had been killed in a precision strike in the Wattapur district of Kunar province Saturday, but that they had received no reports of any civilian casualties.
Kunar Police Chief Abdul Habib Sayedkhil told AFP the airstrike hit a pickup truck carrying the women and children as well as four armed insurgents.
“At least four women, four children and two civilian drivers were killed in a NATO airstrike in Wattapur district of Kunar province,” he said.
Kunar Provincial Governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala told AFP that 12 civilians - four women, four children and four men - were killed, along with four insurgents.
“I can confirm that four armed insurgents belonging to Al-Qaeda were also killed in the airstrike,” he said.
Civilians casualties in NATO operations have long been a source of tension between the Afghan government and US-led NATO troops, who are winding down operations as they prepare to withdraw by the end of next year.
President Hamid Karzai has banned his forces requesting NATO strikes during operations in residential areas. ISAF said it was aware of the allegations and was looking into the incident. “We can confirm Coalition Forces’ conducted a precision strike yesterday... resulting in 10 enemy forces killed,” it said in a statement. “At this time, we have no reports of any civilian casualties in regards to this incident.” Civilian deaths have been a long-running source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his international backers.
Meanwhile, at least four Afghan intelligence agents were killed and dozens of civilians were wounded Sunday when a group of Taliban militants attacked an intelligence bureau in central Afghanistan, officials said.
Six attackers armed with guns and suicide vests attacked a National Directorate of Security (NDS) building in Maidan Shar, the capital city of Wardak province south of the capital Kabul, provincial spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP.
“Five attackers and four intelligence officers were killed in the ensuing clash. Thirty civilians were wounded,” he said.
The first attacker was killed when he smashed his explosives-laden vehicle into the gate of the bureau, opening the way for the other five to enter the building, he said.
The fighting lasted an hour, ending only when all the militants were dead.
An AFP reporter said he had seen the bodies of five militants at the scene.
Doctor Ghulam Farooq Wardak, an official at Wardak central hospital, said more than 150 people — mostly civilians — were wounded.
“One hundred and fifty-three people including 23 women and two children have been brought to the hospital,” he told AFP, adding that twelve civilians were in a critical condition.
The Taliban on their website claimed responsiblity for the attack, saying their fighters have incurred heavy casualties to Afghan security forces.