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UN Urges Review After Airstrikes Kill Afghan Children

Afghan villagers look at the bodies of two children and a villager after they were allegedly killed in an airstrike by foreign troops in Kandahar, south of Kabul (file)

The United Nations is calling on the United States and NATO to reconsider the use of airstrikes following the deaths of nine children in Afghanistan earlier this week.

U.N. envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, called the incident a "cause of serious concern." She also called on the U.S. and NATO to ensure they take all necessary precautions in what she described as a volatile and complex situation.

Afghan officials said the children were collecting firewood when they were killed Tuesday in eastern Kunar province.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan apologized for the incident Wednesday.

General David Petraeus also ordered all military commanders and helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the rules for carrying out air raids.

NATO says its probe found that coalition forces mistakenly fired on the civilians as a result of miscommunication.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has warned the coalition could face "huge problems" if the inadvertent killing of civilians does not stop.

A recent Afghan investigation found that as many as 64 civilians were killed during separate NATO operations in Kunar province late last month. The coalition says it is investigating the allegations.

A recent United Nations report found that more than 2,400 civilians were killed in 2010. More than three-quarters of the deaths were caused by militants.