Declan Walsh and Stephen Bates
Monday, February 15th, 2010
Two Nato rockets aimed at Taliban insurgents in Helmand missed their target today, killing 12 civilians sheltering in their home and dealing a sharp blow to hopes that civilian casualties would be avoided in the largest western-led operation of the nine-year Afghan war.
The incident occurred in Nad Ali, an insurgent-infested area where British troops are operating. A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the rockets, which were fired by a sophisticated missile system, were a “US responsibility”.
News of the deaths overshadowed cautiously optimistic reports from US commanders in nearby Marjah, a major hub of insurgents and drug smugglers, where marines and Afghan soldiers pushed deep into a labyrinth of mud-walled compounds surrounded by landmines and booby traps.
The soldiers went carefully, preceded by explosives teams and sniffer dogs. Taliban snipers holed up in farmhouses offered sporadic, and sometimes sustained, resistance. One group came under fire moments after they hoisted an Afghan flag over a newly captured compound.
This article was posted: Monday, February 15, 2010 at 4:21 am