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UN confirms killing of 90 civilians by Coalition air raid in W. Afghanistan
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08:29, August 27, 2008

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The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Tuesday confirmed the killing of 90 civilians including women and children in Shindand district of western Herat province during air strike by U.S.-led Coalition forces against Taliban militants, a statement released here said.

"Investigations by UNAMA found convincing evidence, based on the testimony of eyewitnesses that some 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, 15 women and 15 men," the statement said, "15 other villagers were wounded."

"This is matter of grave concern to the United Nations, I have repeatedly made clear that the safety and welfare of civilians must be considered above all else during the planning and conduct of all military operations," the statement quoting Kai Eide, the special envoy of UN secretary general to Afghanistan, as saying.

According to the statement, UNAMA sent its human rights team to affected area for investigation and the team after interviewing people found that the troops with the support of air power at around midnight 21st August destroyed some eight houses and the locals were able to confirm the number of casualties including their names, ages and gender of the victims.

"All parties engaged in the conflict must respect their duties under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect the people we are here to serve," UN envoy to Afghanistan stressed.

Meantime, in a statement issued Tuesday the U.S. military stressed only five militants were killed in the operation.

"Among the 30 bodies, five of them we believe now were not combatants, two women and three children," it said.

The U.S.-led Coalition forces Friday in conjunction with Afghan army carried out ground and air attacks against the suspected hideout of militants in Azizabad village of Shindand district but left scores of locals dead.

Afghan cabinet on Monday also called for regulating the authority and responsibilities of international troops in the war-torn country after the huge civilian casualties in western Herat province.


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