Ten Afghan "civilians" killed in NATO airstrike
KUNAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) - A NATO airstrike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including five children, in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, local officials said, a toll that if confirmed is likely to raise tension between President Hamid Karzai's government and U.S.-led NATO forces.
The strike, in the Shigal district of Kunar province, was confirmed by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), though a spokesman said it could not confirm civilian casualties.
"Foreign forces carried out the attack by themselves without informing us," Kunar Governor Fazlullah Wahidi told Reuters.
Four Taliban fighters were also killed in the strike and five civilians wounded, he said.
The strike occurred in the village of Chawgam and the 10 dead civilians were from two local families, Wahidi said.
A spokesman for ISAF, Major Adam Wojack, said he was aware of an incident which "matched" the report from Kunar, but he could not confirm casualty numbers.
"We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously and we are currently assessing the incident to determine more facts," Wojack said.
ISAF regularly states that it has reduced civilian casualties in recent years, and that the insurgents are now responsible for 84 per cent of all such deaths and injuries.
The airstrike came within hours of U.S. President Barack Obama's declaration that he would be withdrawing half the U.S. troops in Afghanistan - 34,000 - by the end of this year.
That would be followed by further troop withdrawals next year which would lead to the end of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, he said.
(Reporting by Mohammad Anwar; Writing by Mirwais Harooni, Dylan Welch; Editing by Nick Macfie)