South Asia News
US airstrikes "mistakenly" kill nearly 40 police, Afghan civilians
May 29, 2011, 10:39 GMT
Kabul - US-led airstrikes targeting Taliban insurgents in north-eastern Afghanistan 'mistakenly' killed 18 civilians and 20 local police forces, a provincial governor said.
The firefight and airstrikes also left at least 85 Taliban fighters dead and dozens others injured, said Jamaluddin Badr, the provincial governor for Nuristan, where the week-long clash took place.
On May 22, hundreds of Taliban militants shortly overran Du Aab district in Nuristan province, driving the poorly-equipped police forces from the area.
The local authorities requested coalition forces for air support, while police shot their way back into the district centre to recapture the town.
By Thursday, the Afghan commandos and NATO forces had descended on the area by helicopter while coalition warplanes bombed the Taliban's positions, he said.
'A total of 18 civilians were killed in the bombing on Thursday, because the Taliban had used villagers as their human shields, and were firing on Afghan and NATO forces from the residential homes,' Badr told the German Press Agency dpa.
He said 20 local police forces involved in close-range fighting with insurgents 'were also mistakenly killed in the aerial bombings.'
The district was completely under control of Afghan forces, while Taliban fighters were pushed back to mountain forests, from where they continued to fire rockets at combined troops, he said.
Taliban militants and members of other insurgents groups are active in Nuristan, where they control at least one district and large swathes of rural areas.
Civilian casualties at the hands of international forces have been the most delicate issue between the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and NATO military officials.
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