Deadly Afghan strikes investigated

US may have led attacks in which civilians died

Fazullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar Province, said a Taliban leader was the target of a strike that killed 10.
Meer Afzal/European Pressphoto Agency
Fazullah Wahidi, governor of Kunar Province, said a Taliban leader was the target of a strike that killed 10.

KABUL — International military officials are investigating two episodes in which as many as 11 Afghan civilians may have been killed in what appeared to be US-led military actions.

In the more lethal episode, Afghan officials said 10 civilians were killed in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan in a village where two known Taliban commanders were visiting family members.

“Ten civilians were killed last night in a joint Afghan and American operation that took place in Chogam Valley in Shigal district,’’ said Fazullah Wahidi, the provincial governor.


He said four women, one man, and five children between the ages of 8 and 13 were killed; four teenagers were wounded.

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Increasingly over the past two years, foreign insurgents, sometimes with links to Al Qaeda and other non-Afghan groups, have taken refuge in Kunar and neighboring Nuristan Province. Both provinces have a long border with Pakistan, and insurgents can hide easily in the rugged and forested mountain terrain.

Wahidi said the target of the Kunar operation was a Taliban leader named Shahpour, ‘‘a known and really dangerous Afghan Taliban commander with links to Al Qaeda operatives in Kunar’’ and another Taliban commander, known as ‘‘Rocketi,’’ a Pakistani citizen from the Northwest Frontier Province. Both were killed in the attack.

Wahidi said the operation was not coordinated with ­Afghan security forces, but that locally hired Afghan paramilitaries were involved in the raid, which included an airstrike and a ground operation. Sometimes other US government agencies rather than the military use special commandos.

Major Adam Wojack, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, said they had no information on the operation but ‘‘were aware of the reports’’ of civilian deaths and were looking into it.


Local officials in Kunar said that Shahpour was believed to have links to Al Qaeda and narrowly escaped being killed last year when the Americans attacked another Al Qaeda-linked Taliban commander.

People from Chogam, who brought injured people from the remote village where the latest attack took place to the main hospital in the provincial capital of Asadabad, described a precise but damaging hit on two adjacent houses.

The other episode in which an Afghan civilian was killed by foreign troops occurred Tuesday during daylight hours.

It took place as NATO-led forces were checking a stretch of heavily traveled highway between Kandahar and Spin Boldak for explosives during a road clearance mission and shot at an oncoming car that did not stop when signaled to do so, Wojack said.