World

5 Afghan civilians killed in NATO attack

Five civilians have been killed in a NATO airstrike against suspected insurgents in Kandahar, following a weekend strike in which 12 Afghan civilians died.

Five civilians have been killed in a NATO airstrike against suspected insurgents in Kandahar, Afghanistan, following a rocket strike over the weekend that mistakenly killed 12 Afghan civilians.

According to a NATO statement Monday, a joint patrol of NATO and Afghan troops saw individuals digging along a path in the Zhari district of Kandahar province and mistakenly concluded they were planting an improvised explosive device.

On Sunday, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, apologized to Afghan President Hamid Karzai after two NATO rockets missed insurgents and killed 12 Afghan civilians.

The rockets missed the target — a compound where insurgents were firing at NATO and Afghan soldiers, wounding two — by 300 metres, the release said.

The civilians were killed in the Nad Ali district, one of the areas near Marjah in Helmand province where 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops began a major operation Friday to dislodge the Taliban.

Karzai had previously asked military leaders to avoid civilian casualties. On Sunday, he issued a statement saying 10 members of the same family were killed by a rocket.

The death of Afghan civilians during NATO operations has undermined the coalition's efforts to win over the population.

With files from The Associated Press