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US Denies Its Airstrike Killed Afghan Civilians Sunday


The Pentagon says no civilians were killed in an air strike Sunday in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan, which local officials say killed 27 people who were walking to a wedding. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

U.S. military officials in Kabul say they believe the air strike hit its intended target, a group of militants. Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed that view.

"I can only tell you I talked to Afghanistan this morning, and they are very clear with that particular strike that they believe they struck the intended target and that there were not innocent civilians involved in that particular strike," said Whitman.

The reports of civilian casualties came from Afghan officials, who said they spoke to people in the remote area by telephone. The U.S. military says Taliban militants often pressure villagers into claiming civilian casualties after air strikes.

The NATO command in Kabul is investigating the incident, along with another on Friday, also in eastern Afghanistan, in which the Nuristan provincial governor says 22 civilians were killed.

Meanwhile, a suicide bombing in Kabul killed at least 40 civilians Monday on a road in front of the Indian Embassy, just across the road from the Interior Ministry.

A U.S. embassy spokesman says such attacks demonstrate that the insurgents do not care about civilian casualties. And the Pentagon spokesman, Bryan Whitman, says the bombing also illustrates the difficulty of preventing such attacks, even in a secured area.

"Well, I think it says more about suicide bombers and people that are intent on killing themselves and innocent people," he said. "It is always hard to protect against those type of attacks."

The bombing was one of the most deadly in Kabul since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

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