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Probe Continues in Accidental Killing of 9 Afghan Children in Coalition Attack - 2003-12-08

U.S. and Afghan military officials are investigating the accidental killing of nine Afghan children during an air attack on an alleged terrorist hideout.

Officials in Kabul say a joint team of Afghan and U.S. military personnel is at the scene in a remote part of the southern Ghazni province to determine the cause of the civilian deaths.

The delegation has also reportedly met families of the victims.

U.S. military officials say that nine Afghan children died along with a suspected terrorist in a coalition air attack on Saturday. They say the alleged terrorist, Mullah Wazir, was a senior member of the ousted Taleban regime, and was linked to several attacks on aid workers and government targets in the area.

But Afghans in the region dispute that claim. They say the man the U.S. forces were hunting had already left the area.

The United States expressed regret for the loss of innocent lives, and promised the coalition will "make every effort" to assist the families of the victims.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked the coalition for an explanation, and the United Nations has called for a swift and public inquiry into what it called a profoundly distressing tragedy.

On the same day, Taleban fighters reportedly kidnapped two Indian nationals working on a U.S.-funded road project in Zabul province. They had kidnapped and released a Turkish engineer working on the same highway last month.

Meanwhile, officials in Kabul say two Turkish workers reported to have been kidnapped just outside the capital are not being held captive and are safe. They say the workers appeared to have been caught up in a land dispute between two villages.