NATO appologises as two Afghan boys die
The NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) force has apologised for the deaths of two Afghan boys, killed when a helicopter fired on them, mistaking them for insurgents.
The boys, aged under-seven, were killed on Thursday in Uruzgan province.
ISAF takes “full responsibility for this tragedy," its commander, Joseph Dunford says.
In a statement, General Dunford said, "I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed."
He said the boys who were tending cattle "were killed when coalition forces fired at what they thought were insurgent forces. I am committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those we harmed, as well as for the community in which they lived."
General Dunford added that ISAF and Afghan investigators had already visited the village in the central province where the boys lived and met local leaders.
The governor of Uruzgan, Amir Mohammad Akhundzada said, "the children were killed by Australian troops, it was a mistaken incident, not a deliberate one."
Australian forces, deployed in Uruzgan, were involved in an "operational incident" in the province, the Australian parliamentary Secretary for Defence, David Feeney said.
Feeney added that the Australian military and the ISAF were investigating the incident.
Analysts say civilian deaths enrage the Afghan people and President Hamid Karzai, who recently stopped his troops calling in foreign air strikes in built-up areas.
That move came after a February 13 incident where a NATO air strike requested by Afghan forces killed 10 people, including five women and four children.
About 1,500 Australian soldiers are based in Uruzgan province. Their main focus is to provide training and mentoring to Afghan soldiers.
President Karzai has demanded time and time again that NATO -led forces take more care and prevent such incidents from occurring.
The ISAF has reduced the number of such killings, but they keep happening.
The NATO-led troops are scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and have gradually been handing over responsibility for security to Afghan counterparts, reports said.