The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn says the “rapid apologies” by Nato forces after the killing of Afghan civilians “show a significant political and military change in the Afghan war”. “Political support for the war is so fragile in the US and other states contributing troops that every misdirected bombing has to be apologised for. The Dutch government has already fallen because of disagreement over the Dutch military contribution of 2,000 troops to the Nato force. This limitation on airstrikes removes one of the Nato powers' main advantages against Taliban guerrillas: the ability to call in air power whenever fighters were located. The Nato planes fired yesterday at a convoy of three vehicles; among the dead were four women and a child, and 12 more were wounded. The group were believed to be Taliban fighters. The outcome of the bombing confirms that when air power is inaccurate the blame lies not with inadequate technology but with the failures of the intelligence on which targeting is based. In the mountains of Uruzgan province in southern Afghanistan, intelligence is always going to be patchy or even based on deliberate misinformation. It is therefore increasingly difficult for Nato to claim, as it did early last year and the year before, that casualties are not civilians but in fact Taliban fighters.”