At least 14 civilians were killed in southern Afghanistan when an air strike led by NATO troops attacked on Sunday said NATO and Afghan Officials, reported Reuters. Many of the killed were children.

It is termed as one of the deadliest attacks on Afghanistan in months.

The commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in southwestern Afghanistan apologized for the deaths of nine civilians, saying troops had unwittingly targeted a home because insurgents were using it as a base.

Unfortunately, the compound, the insurgents purposefully occupied was later discovered to house innocent civilians, Major General John Toolan said in a statement the, report stated. While I know there is no price on human life we will ensure that we make amends with the families in accordance with Afghan culture, he added.

In previous instances, the mistaken killing of civilians by foreign forces, usually during air strikes or night-time raids, has been a major cause of friction between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers.

Karzai condemned the latest case of civilian casualties from NATO air strikes, saying he had warned U.S. and NATO troops their arbitrary and unnecessary operations were killing innocent people every day the report said.

This accident has definitely affected the support expected from Afghan civilians for an already unpopular war.

The governor of Helmand province, where the air strike was called in, said the bomb killed 14 civilians, two of them women and the remainder children. Bereaved relatives brought the bodies of young children to the provincial capital to protest .However; ISAF did not give the ages of the civilians it said died.

Karzai said termed the incident a big mistake.It shows that attention is not being paid, he said.

The White House shares Karzai's concerns over civilian casualties, and takes them very seriously, U.S. President Barack Obama's spokesman said after the air strike.

Bereaved male relatives cradled the bodies of several young children wrapped in bloody sheets and placed side to side, and brought them in the back of a truck to the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, Reuters television pictures showed.

My house was bombarded in the middle of the night and my children were killed ... the Taliban were far away from my home, why was my house bombed? relative Noor Agha told Reuters.

The NATO air strike comes at a time of high anti-Western sentiment in Afghanistan and days after deadly protests by thousands of people against a night raid by NATO troops in which 4 people, including 2 women, were killed.  

Both the Helmand governor and Toolan said coalition troops had come under fire before they ordered the bombing of a compound where the insurgents had taken shelter.  The Helmand governor said in a statement that seven boys and five girls were among the dead and three other children wounded, the report stated.