On Friday, NATO apologized for the civilian deaths that resulted from an air strike in Afghanistan on Wednesday.
According to Afghan officials, 18 civilians were killed. Witnesses told AP that elderly people, women and children were among the casualties. They had been gathered in a home in the Sajawand village of Logar Province for a wedding.
I know that no apology can bring back the lives of the children or the people who perished in this tragedy and this accident, but I want you to know that you have my apology and we will do the right thing by the families, said the NATO troop commander, U.S. Marine General John Allen, to reporters.
The deaths were called unjustifiable by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The airstrike occurred before dawn on Wednesday morning. These nighttime raids have long been a source of contention for Afghans, who have argued that such tactics endanger civilians and preclude the cooperation of Afghan security forces. The issue was addressed in an April accord, which gave Afghan government greater control over the raids. As a result, some Afghan soldiers were involved in Wednesday's operation.
Allen reported that fighting broke out before the airstrike was called; gunfire was exchanged, a hand grenade was thrown, and three NATO troops were wounded. He added that nobody knew there were civilians in the house before the airstrike began.
Following the tragedy, an Afghan doctor named Wali Wakil was on hand to examine the bodies of the deceased. He told AP that members of the Taliban were in the same house as the wedding party, seeking to avoid detection. The Taliban stopped [the families] from getting out of the house when NATO troops called for any civilians to vacate the premises, explained Wakil.
The BBC reports that in addition to the civilians, at least eight Taliban commanders were killed in the attack.