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February 22, 2010

US Commander Makes Televised Apology for Afghan Deaths in NATO Strike

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has appeared on Afghan national television to apologize for last week's deadly NATO airstrike that officials say killed 21 people.

In a video address that was translated into Dari and Pashto, General Stanley McChrystal said NATO and Afghan forces targeted what they thought were insurgents in Uruzgan province last week.  He said NATO now believes the attack killed and wounded a number of Afghan citizens.

He called the incident a "tragic loss of innocent lives," and said he has authorized a thorough investigation to prevent it from happening again.  General McChrystal has made protecting civilians and winning their trust a top priority for NATO forces in Afghanistan.
 
Elsewhere, Afghan police say an explosion killed eight people and wounded 16 others in Helmand province, where Afghan and NATO forces are conducting a major offensive against Taliban militants.

Police say the bomb went off in front of a government building Tuesday in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the southern province.

In the nearby town of Marjah, U.S. military officials are reporting slow, but steady, progress in the operation targeting Taliban fighters.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.