Shah Marai / AFP - Getty Images
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, since in this August 21 file photo.
KABUL, Afghanistan - President Hamid Karzai “strongly condemned” a NATO air strike that local officials say killed civilians – the latest sign of tension between Afghanistan’s government and U.S.-led forces.
NATO insists that it is not aware of any civilian casualties and that Taliban insurgents were the only victims of the strike, which happened in the province of Kunar at around 5:30pm local time (9.30 a.m. ET) Saturday.
Accounts of the incident and the number of victims differ, but Karzai’s comments late Sunday underline the strained relationship between Kabul and Washington as the U.S. prepares to withdraw troops following the handover of security responsibility to local forces.
President Hamid Karzai termed the attack on women and children against all internationally agreed principles and strongly condemned it," Karzai's office said in a statement.
Abdul Habib Sayed Khail, police chief koPolice Chief of Kunar Province, said earlier Sunday that 15 people were killed, nine of whom were civilian women and children. Abdul Ghani Mosamam, spokesman for the Governor of Kunar Province, said the death toll was 16, made up four Taliban insurgents and 12 civilians – four men, four women and four children.
NATO spokeswoman, 1st Lt. Ann-Marie Annicelli, described the incident as "a precision airstrike that killed 10 enemy forces," adding that NATO had no reports of civilian casualties.
“We are aware of reports of allegations of civilian casualties in Watahpur, Kunar,” said a NATO statement Sunday. “We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously.
In response to Karzai's comments, NATO said Monday it had nothing to add to its earlier statement.
NBC News' Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report.
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First published September 9 2013, 8:24 AM