Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued what he calls his "last warning" to U.S. and NATO forces about civilian casualties, after officials said a NATO airstrike in southern Afghanistan killed 14 people.
Mr. Karzai condemned the deaths Sunday and said that uncoordinated operations are killing innocent Afghan civilians. The Afghan president has been urging coalition forces to minimize night raids and clear them with Afghan forces, so that the number of casualties can be reduced.
A White House spokesman Sunday said the U.S. shares President Karzai's concern about civilian casualties, and takes them very seriously.
Afghan authorities say the airstrike late Saturday hit two houses in Helmand province, the Nawzad district, and killed 14 people - all women and children. They say six other civilians were injured.
A NATO spokesman said he was aware of the reports of civilian casualties. He said a joint assessment team was sent to the site.
Local officials said the airstrike followed an attack on a U.S. Marine base in the area.
In Washington, U.S. Senator John McCain, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Fox News he disagrees with administration plans to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan in July. He said a drawdown should be dictated instead by conditions on the ground. The U.S.-led NATO alliance has about 150,000 troops in the country. About 100,000 of them are U.S. forces.
On Saturday, a suicide bomber wearing a police uniform struck inside the governor's complex in northern Takhar province while ranking Afghan officials were meeting with NATO troops. The attacker killed the police commander of northern Afghanistan, General Dawood Dawood, and five others, including police officials and two German soldiers. At least nine other people were wounded in the attack.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bombing in Taloqan city.