Afghan men carry body of civilian possibly killed by American soldiers after attack on American convoy in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan
Rahmat Gul  /  AP
Afghan men carry a body of a civilian they said was killed by American soldiers after a car bomber attacked an American convoy in Barikaw in Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, on Sunday. A family of nine was killed in a NATO airstrike on Monday.
updated 3/5/2007 2:32:05 PM ET 2007-03-05T19:32:05

A coalition airstrike destroyed a mud-brick home, killing nine people from four generations of an Afghan family during a clash between Western troops and militants, Afghan officials and relatives said Monday.

It was the second report in two days of civilian deaths at the hands of Western forces. On Sunday, U.S. Marines fired on cars and pedestrians as they fled a suicide attack. Up to 10 Afghans died in that violence, and President Hamid Karzai condemned the killings.

Both times, the U.S. military blamed militants for putting innocent lives in danger.

But Karzai has repeatedly pleaded for Western troops to show more restraint amid concern that civilian deaths shake domestic support for the foreign military involvement that the president needs to prop up his weak government — increasingly under threat from a resurgent Taliban.

In the latest incident, militants late Sunday fired on a U.S. base in Kapisa province, just north of Kabul, prompting the airstrike on Jabar village.

Women, children among victims
The strike hit a civilian home, killing four women, four children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, and one elderly man, said Gulam Nabi, a relative of the victims.

Sayad Mohammad Dawood Hashimmi, Kapisa deputy governor, confirmed the nine deaths, as did an Interior Ministry official in Kabul, who asked not to be identified because the ministry had not yet prepared a statement.

A U.S. military statement said two men with automatic rifles were seen heading into a compound of five homes after a rocket attack on a U.S. base in the area.

“These men knowingly endangered civilians by retreating into a populated area while conducting attacks against coalition forces,” said Lt. Col. David Accetta, a U.S. military spokesman. “We observed the men entering a compound and that compound was targeted and hit by an airstrike.”

Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman, said coalition forces will always respond in self defense when fired upon: “It is often the enemy that is putting innocent peoples’ lives in danger by where they’re conducting these attacks on our forces.”

Statement: Two 2,000-pound bombs dropped
The statement said coalition forces “dropped two 2,000-pound bombs” on the compound after a rocket was fired at the base and armed militants were seen moving into the compound. The U.S. base in Kapisa is about 50 miles northeast of Kabul, the capital.

An AP reporter at the scene said a large mud home in a compound of five buildings was destroyed, leaving only bits of mud.

Among those killed were Gulam Nabi’s parents, his sister, his nephew, and four of the extended family’s youngest children.

Disputed attack
The news of the airstrike came a day after wounded Afghans and witnesses said U.S. Marines fired on civilians after a suicide bombing in eastern Nangahar province. The violence, that left up to 10 Afghans dead and 34 wounded, sparked angry anti-U.S. demonstrations by hundreds of Afghan men.

A U.S. official called The Associated Press on Monday to say that military authorities believe Sunday’s suicide bombing was a “clearly planned, orchestrated attack” that included enemy fire on the convoy and a pre-planned demonstration.

The official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said authorities believed that criminal elements orchestrated the attack and demonstration and that it was related to ongoing Afghan efforts to eradicate the region’s profitable opium poppy crop.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch estimates that more than 100 Afghan civilians died as a result of NATO and coalition assaults in 2006. An AP tally, based on reports from Afghan, NATO and coalition officials, puts the overall civilian death toll in 2006 at 834, most from militant attacks.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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