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US Air Assault Kills 11 Civilians in Afghanistan - 2004-01-19


Afghan officials say 11 civilians, including four children, were killed in an apparent mistaken air assault by U.S. forces. The U.S. military says it is investigating the incident.

The reported incident took place Sunday in central Afghanistan's Uruzgan Province, the site of recent fighting between U.S.-led coalition forces and anti-government insurgents.

Haji Abdul-Rahman, the administrator for the district of Char Cheno, where the air attack is said to have taken place, told VOA that the assault was carried out by U.S. aircraft, killing non-combatants, including women and children.

He says U.S. troops had been operating in the area just prior to the incident.

Press reports quoted the provincial governor as confirming the civilian deaths.

U.S. Central Command, in charge of military operations in Afghanistan, could not confirm the incident, but said it is investigating the reports.

"We are awaiting further information in order to release complete facts regarding the presumed incident here," said Central Command spokeswoman, Lieutenant-Colonel Leslie Williams.

Lieutenant Colonel Williams says U.S. forces had skirmished with suspected insurgents earlier at a compound near where the air strike reportedly took place.

"Coalition [soldiers] in Afghanistan did engage and kill five anti-coalition insurgents at a compound that was north of Dae Rawood," she said.

U.S. forces are said to have mistakenly killed 15 civilians in two separate incidents last month, both of which are under investigation.