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Up to 18 Afghan civilians killed in airstrikes

On Monday, Dec 28, President Karzai condemned a foreign airstrike in Kunar province, saying the attack killed 10 civilians including eight students. Now the UN's Kai Eide has weighed in on the matter:

UN Says Eight Afghans Killed In Weekend Raid Were Students

KABUL, Dec 31 (Reuters) - The United Nations said today that eight Afghan students died in a controversial nighttime raid last weekend, which NATO-led forces say only targeted insurgents but Afghan officials say killed 10 civilians...

"The United Nations remains concerned about nighttime raids given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded, and the frustration of local authorities when operations are not coordinated with them," [UN Special Representative Kai] Eide said... (link)

The New York Times reports that the UN investigation's findings are only preliminary at this stage. Note that the UN doesn't so far shed any light on the other two alleged civilian victims.

Now there are reports of similar incident, this one in Helmand province:

Air Strike Kills Afghan Civilians, Provincial Official Says

KANDAHAR, Dec 31 (Reuters) - An air strike by foreign forces in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province on December 30 killed civilians, although the number of victims is unknown, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.

"A patrol of foreign troops came under Taliban ambush at 3 p.m. After the ambush, planes came and bombed the area, which caused civilian casualties," said Dawud Ahmadi, spokesman for the Helmand governor... (link)

The New York Times relates reports that seven civilians died in the attack and Xinhua quotes an official to that effect:

"NATO-led troops carried out air strike outside Helmand's provincial capital Lashkargah on Wednesday, killing seven civilians and wounding two others," spokesman for provincial administration Daud Ahmadi told Xinhua.

The attack, he added, took place when some elders in Walizai village were discussing on the irrigation system in their area... (link)

Al Jazeera says "at least eight civilians" were killed in the Helmand incident.

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