US Investigation Confirms 13 Noncombatant Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan Strike
Dispatches from the Front:
KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 21, 2009 -- An investigation into a Feb. 17 coalition air strike in Afghanistan’s Heart province has confirmed that 13 noncombatants and three enemy fighters were killed, military officials reported.
A combined Afghan National Army and coalition forces investigation team, accompanied by international observers, inspected the site this week to determine the identities of those killed.
Investigators found weapons and ammunition at the site, and Afghan army officers met with village leaders following the incident.
“We expressed our deepest condolences to the survivors of the noncombatants who were killed during this operation,” Army Brig. Gen. Michael Ryan of U.S. Forces Afghanistan said at the site of the attack after speaking with local villagers and family members there.
“Our inquiry in Herat demonstrates how seriously we take our responsibility in conducting operations against militant targets and the occurrence of noncombatant casualties,” the general said. “Our concern is for the security of the Afghan people. To this end, we continually evaluate the operations we conduct during the course of our mission in Afghanistan and have agreed to coordinate our efforts jointly.”
Ryan also met with the senior provincial army and police commanders, and separately with the governor of Herat, to discuss the attack.
(From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan news release.)
Related: OEF Summary, Feb. 20, 2009: Afghanistan Operations Leave 18 Militants Dead
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