'Eight civilians die' in Afghan airstrike

An airstrike by the US-led Nato coalition has killed eight members of a family in eastern Afghanistan, local authorities have said.

An airstrike by the US-led Nato coalition has killed eight members of a family in eastern Afghanistan, local authorities have said.

The coalition said it is aware of the allegation and is looking into what happened in Paktia province.

Provincial spokesman Rohullah Samon said that a man, woman and their six children were killed in a coalition airstrike in Suri Khail village in the Gurda Saria district.

The deaths of citizens caught in the crossfire of the decade-long war continue to be an irritant in President Hamid Karzai’s relationship with his international partners.

Earlier this month, the Afghan president warned that civilian casualties caused by Nato airstrikes could undermine the strategic partnership agreement he just signed with the US.

Mr Samon said Mohammad Shafi, his wife and their six children died in the airstrike.

“Shafi was not a Taliban. He was not in any opposition group against the government. He was a villager,” Mr Samon said. “Right now, we are working on this case to find out the ages of their children and how many of them are boys and girls.”

Nato said in a statement: “Coalition officials are currently looking into the claims and gathering information.”

Any Nato airstrike that leads to civilian deaths erodes the Afghan people’s trust in foreign forces.

“If the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the signing of the strategic partnership has no meaning,” Mr Karzai’s office said earlier this month.

Mr Karzai’s warning came after Afghan officials reported that 18 civilians had died recently in four airstrikes in Logar, Kapisa, Badghis and Helmand provinces.

Last year was the deadliest on record for civilians in the Afghan war, with 3,021 killed as insurgents increased violence with suicide attacks and roadside bombs, the United Nations said in its latest report on civilian deaths.

The UN attributed 77% of the deaths to insurgent attacks and 14% to actions by international and Afghan troops, with 9% of cases classified as having an unknown cause.

Separately, Nato reported that four coalition service members had died in roadside bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.

Nato said in a statement that all four deaths occurred on Saturday. It provided no other details on the attacks, including the nationalities of the service members.

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