Nato in deadly Afghan air strike in Logar province

Soldier in Logar, generic image Nato said two women were injured in the raid, but made no mention of civilian deaths

Nato planes have carried out an air strike in the Afghan province of Logar, south of the capital Kabul, with several civilians reported dead.

Afghan officials said 18 civilians died, including women and children.

Nato said the air strike followed Afghan and foreign troops coming under fire, but added in a statement that it would investigate the incident.

Widespread reports of civilian deaths during air strikes often draw angry criticism from Afghan officials.

Tribal elders and officials in Logar told the BBC that top Taliban commanders had gathered at a house in a remote village in the district of Baraki Barak.

Afghan and Nato forces surrounded the house and warned the Taliban to surrender. Isaf, Nato's operation in Afghanistan, said that the troops came under fire.

Nato forces then called for an air strike.

According to Afghan intelligence officials, the strike killed 18 civilians, including women and children who were in the house at the time. Reports say guests had gathered at the house ahead of a wedding.

Villagers later took their dead to the provincial capital to show that they had been wrongly targeted, the BBC's Quentin Somerville in Kabul reports.

At least eight Taliban commanders were also killed nearby.

Sensitive issue

A Nato spokesman said he could not confirm or deny reports of civilian casualties.

Afghan villagers gather at a house destroyed in an apparent NATO raid in Logar province, south of Kabul, Afghanistan Local people say women and children were among those killed in the attack

However, an earlier statement from Isaf had said: "While conducting a follow-on assessment, the security force discovered two women who had sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

"The security force provided medical assistance and transported both women to an Isaf medical facility for treatment."

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says the issue of civilian deaths at the hands of Nato is highly sensitive.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has issued several warnings to the Nato-led mission that killing Afghan civilians, even by accident, is unacceptable.

Also on Wednesday, at least 22 civilians were killed in suicide bombings in the southern city of Kandahar, while two more died in the northern Faryab province.

It makes Wednesday one of the deadliest days for Afghan civilians in recent memory, correspondents say.

Separately, Nato said one of its helicopters had crashed in the east of the country, killing two service personnel.

The alliance said the cause of the crash was under investigation.

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