Thursday, August 26, 2008
KABUL (AFP) – A United Nations team has found “convincing evidence” that 90 civilians, including 60 children, were killed in US-led air strikes last week, the body’s representative in Afghanistan said Tuesday.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) human rights team was sent to the western province of Herat after local claims that scores of civilians were killed in Friday’s strikes.
“Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses and others, that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men,” special representative Kai Eide said.
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“Fifteen other villagers were wounded or otherwise injured,” he said in a statement.
The matter was of “grave concern” to the United Nations, Eide added.
A separate investigation appointed by President Hamid Karzai said over the weekend that more than 90 civilians were killed in the strikes.
The toll is one of the highest for civilians killed in military action since international troops started deploying to Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the hardline Taliban regime and root out other extremists.
The US-led coalition had initially said only 30 Taliban had died, but acknowledged on Tuesday that five civilians — two women and three children — were dead in the strikes that also killed a Taliban target.
“We believe those to be family members of the targeted militant, Mullah Sadiq. He was important for us to target,” US Lieutenant Nathan Perry told AFP from the main US military base at Bagram north of Kabul.
The UN special representative said his team met with the district governor and local elders on Monday, and interviewed people from the affected areas.