Just 24-hours after Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai warned western forces to minimise civilian casualties, a Nato air strike has killed 21 civilians including women and children. “The interior ministry said women and children were among those killed when the Nato-led force conducted a strike on vehicles suspected to contain insurgents in the southern Uruzgan Province on Sunday. The air strike was not part of Operation Moshtarak, a major offensive by US, UK and Afghan forces to drive insurgents out of the town of Marjah in neighbouring Helmand Province. ‘Troops were suspicious that several civilian vehicles contained insurgents and bombed them,’ Zamari Bashary, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, told Reuters. He added that 11 people had been wounded. The Nato-led force said soldiers believed they were targeting insurgents preparing to attack a joint international-Afghan unit but had later discovered women and children at the scene of the attack. The force said it had launched an investigation into the deaths and that Stanley McChrystal, the top US general in Afghanistan, spoke with Mr Karzai on Sunday to express his regret. ‘We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives,’Gen McChrystal said in a statement.”
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