Air strike kills Afghan women, children attending wedding, villagers say
Afghan villagers are alleging a coalition air strike in the southern region of the country killed at least 23 children and 10 women who were attending a wedding.
Witnesses in the village of Wech Baghtu, which is in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province, were reporting Wednesday that 37 Afghans were killed in Monday's attack.
But Rahmatullah Raufi, the governor of Kandahar province, told a news conference on Wednesday that authorities believe it could be up to 90 who died and 30 more injured.
Villager Abdul Jalil said he was hosting the wedding party for his niece when Taliban militants fighting with U.S. forces took cover near his home and coalition warplanes bombed the area.
"There's a lot of casualties," Mohammad Nabi Khan told the Associated Press. "Most of them were women and children. Many are still buried under the rubble of homes."
Wedding parties in Afghanistan are segregated by gender.
"What kind of security are the foreign troops providing in Afghanistan?" Khan said.
Canadian ground troops also operate in the region but a Canadian Forces spokesman at Kandahar Air Field declined to comment on if they were involved.
The U.S. military said it is investigating the reports.
"If innocent people were killed in this operation, we apologize and express our condolences," said Cmdr. Jeff Bender, a deputy public affairs officer with U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, said in a media release.
"Though facts are unclear at this point, we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the people of Afghanistan and to avoid circumstances where noncombatant civilians are placed at risk," Bender said.
The attack promoted Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to demand U.S. president-elect Barack Obama do more to prevent civilian causalities in the country during his congratulatory message.
"By bombing Afghanistan, the war against terrorism cannot be won," Karzai said.
With files from the Associated Press