The Guardian 1 November, 2006

NATO raids slaughter civilians

At least 85 civilians were killed by a NATO air strike in a village of the southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan, an Afghan official and a witness told the Xinhua news agency last week. Bismillah Afghanmal, a member of the provincial council of Kandahar, said a NATO air strike killed 85 civilians including women and children in Nangawat village in Panjwai district of the province. He said there was no information of Taliban casualties in the bombardment.

Meanwhile, Ghulam Hasan, a villager from Nangawat, said about 90 civilians were killed and several injured in the NATO bombing. So far civilian bodies had been dug out from the rubble, he added.

According to locals, 20 injured civilians from Panjwai district have been taken to Mir Wais hospital in Kandahar city, the provincial capital. But doctors in the hospital reached by Xinhua declined to make comment on the issue.

Zhari and Panjwai districts, about 40 kilometres west of Kandahar city are the birthplace of the fundamentalist Taliban movement and has been a stronghold of Taliban militants.

Meantime, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement that it was "very concerned by reports that a great number of civilians may have died during the conduct of military operations" in Nangawat village.

"The United Nations has always made clear that the safety and welfare of civilians must always come first and any civilian casualties are unacceptable."

The previous worst incident of civilian deaths was in July 2002, when a US air strike in the southern Uruzgan province killed 48 civilians and wounded 117 others, many of them celebrating at a wedding party.


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