Australian troops kill two children in Afghanistan: officials
By Mamoon Durrani, AFPKANDAHAR, Afghanistan--Australian soldiers in southern Afghanistan shot dead two children tending cattle, officials said Saturday, in an incident likely to escalate tensions over the conduct of international troops.
March 3, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Civilian casualties caused by NATO-led forces have been one of the most contentious issues in the campaign against Taliban insurgents, often triggering widespread public anger and harsh criticism from President Hamid Karzai.
The two children, aged 7 and 8, were killed on Thursday morning as Australian soldiers fought back after a Taliban attack in Uruzgan province, provincial governor Amir Mohammad Akhundzada told AFP.
“The children were killed by Australian troops, it was a mistaken incident, not a deliberate one,” Akhundzada said, adding that insurgents had first shot at a helicopter carrying Australian soldiers.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) expressed its “deep regret” over the children's deaths and said it remained committed to minimizing civilian casualties.
“I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed,” General Joseph Dunford, commander of ISAF, said in a statement.
“I am committed to ensuring we do the right thing for the families of those we harmed, as well as for the community in which they lived. We take full responsibility for this tragedy.”