NATO air strike kills eight women in Laghman Province

Bodies of some of the women killed in the air strike – on the way to hospital morgue

At least eight women have died in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman, local officials say…NATO has conceded that between five and eight civilians died as it targeted insurgents, and offered condolences.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai “strongly condemned” the deaths and has sent officials to the area to investigate…

Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the Isaf international forces, said between five and eight civilians could have been killed, and said an investigation was under way…

He told the BBC that a group of some 45 insurgents had been targeted by an ISAF unit, and many had been killed…

At least seven women were also reported to have been injured. Provincial health director Latif Qayumi said some of them injured were girls aged as young as 10.

The Laghman governor’s office said a number of civilians had gone to the mountains to collect wood and nuts from a forest in the Noarlam Saib valley, a common practice in the area…

In August, UN figures suggested the number of civilians killed and injured in the first half of 2012 had fallen 15% on the same period of 2011…Analysts said increased sensitivity on both sides about the impact of civilian deaths had led to more carefully targeted attacks.

In his statement, President Hamid Karzai expressed his “sorrow” over the incident, saying he “strongly condemns the airstrike by Nato forces which resulted in the deaths of eight women”.

I’m a supporter of risking technology in battle instead of human beings. The context of war and the politics that obviously have failed – leading to war – are a separate group of questions.

Regardless, the use of airborne technology demands information on the ground surpassing whatever it was that was used to justify this air strike. This wasn’t a latency problem lasting a few seconds at the speed of radio communications. This was someone making a decision based on inadequate data about civilians and Taliban in the same wooded area.

Either the rules of engagement must be ratcheted down to a level allowing for humanity – or information gathering has to improve. Results like this are unacceptable by any standard.

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