KHOST, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Eight members of an Afghan family, including six children and two women, were killed in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan, local authorities said on Sunday, although the NATO-led coalition said there was no evidence of any civilian casualties.
The strike took place in the Gerda Serai district of Paktia late on Saturday, the provincial governor’s spokesman, Rohullah Samon, said as foreign and Afghan security forces try to quell Taliban and Haqqani network insurgents active in the area.
“The strike by ISAF killed four teenage boys, two teenage girls, and two women, and wounded two others,” Samon said.
A senior official for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the coalition was looking into the alleged incident, but “so far had seen no evidence of civilian casualties”.
Civilian casualties have been a major source of friction between President Hamid Karzai’s government and U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Samon said the air strike was not coordinated with Afghan security forces on the ground in the area.
NATO is preparing to hand over all security responsibilities to Afghan forces and most foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave the country by the end of 2014.
A NATO airstrike in Kapisa province, northeast of Kabul, in February killed eight children and prompted a furious Karzai to order an inquiry.
The coalition said four foreign soldiers were killed on Saturday by improvised bombs in unrelated incidents in the country’s south.
Reporting by Elyas Wahdat, Writing by Hamid Shalizi, Editing by Rob Taylor