KABUL, Afghanistan – The U.S.-led coalition on Sunday disputed reports that eight civilians, including children, were killed in a NATO airstrike in a remote part of eastern Afghanistan.
Afghan officials said an airstrike Saturday night killed eight members of a family, but a senior NATO official said that so far there is no evidence of any civilian casualties. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the information.
Separately, NATO reported that three coalition service members were killed Sunday in eastern Afghanistan – two during an insurgent attack and one from a roadside bombing.
Four others, including a British soldier, were killed in the south on Saturday, bringing to 169 the number of NATO deaths in Afghanistan so far this year. The nationalities of the other three have not been disclosed.
The coalition said it was working to learn more about allegations that civilians were killed in the NATO operation that foreign forces were conducting Saturday night in Paktia province.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned earlier this month that civilian casualties could undermine a strategic partnership with the U.S. that is to govern long-term relations after most international troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
Karzai appointed a delegation to travel to Paktia province and determine what happened.
Frequently, Afghan and coalition officials offer differing accounts of military operations.
Rohullah Samon, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said Mohammad Shafi, his wife and their six children were killed in the airstrike around 8 p.m. in Suri Khail village of Gurda Saria district.
“Shafi was not a Taliban. He was not in any opposition group against the government. He was a villager,” Samon said.