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article imageNATO airstrike in Afghanistan kills four civilians

By Ken Hanly     Aug 7, 2014 in World
Kabul - A NATO airstrike in the western province of Herat killed four family members all civilians. Reportedly the civilians were on two motorcycles.
Hamid Karzai the Afghan President, who has always been critical of NATO airstrikes particularly when they have resulted in civilian deaths, said the deaths proves that NATO does not value Afghan lives. He also claimed that the strike violated existing bilateral agreements. NATO claims it is aware of the reports of civilian deaths and will be investigating the matter. NATO's typical response is to offer "regrets" but not "apologies" for civilian deaths in airstrikes.
The strike took place in the Shindand District of Herat province. In the area, Taliban fighters apparently fired rockets at an Afghan military air base that also contains coalition troops. The district police chief Abdul Noorzai said the insurgents fled on a pair of motorcycles. Noorzai said that a short time later a coalition aircraft fired on two motorcycles hitting four civilians not the Taliban who had fired the rockets.
Karzai has cited the killing of Afghans by coalition troops as a main reason why he would not sign the agreement that would govern allied forces that would remain in Afghanistan after the expiry of the present agreement at the end of this year. Both the Afghan parliament and a meeting of elders approved the deal. Both presidential candidates in the disputed election runoff also support the agreement.
One report of the incident by Herat provincial police spokesperson Raoul Ahmadi speaks of a helicopter being used in the attack and of one woman a child and two men being killed in the attack. Later there was a protest against the attack in the city of Herat by an estimated 200 people. Efe news agency reported Ahmadi as saying: "A man, a woman, a teenager and a baby died in a drone attack Monday evening in Zawal city, located in the Shindand district of Herat". The helicopter has now been changed to a drone by the same spokesperson as well. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) claims to be looking into the facts: "We can confirm that there was a bombing in western Herat yesterday in which many insurgents died". ISAF said it was still looking into the incident to determine if any civilians died. No other reports I read mention any insurgents being killed except for the Press TV video appended.
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived back in Afghanistan to deal with the dispute between the two runoff presidential candidates. The western backers of the Afghan government would like to see a president installed before a NATO summit in early September. A senior State Dept. official said: "We are hopeful the secretary can obtain a commitment by both candidates to a timeline for completing the audit and agreeing on the details of a national unity government."
ISAF troops will all be withdrawn by the end of December this year but the US hopes to have the new president to sign a bilateral security deal that will maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan until at least 2016.
More about NATO in Afghanistan, Hamid karzai, shindand district
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