Scores killed in Airstrike in Afghanistan

2009-09-05 16:53 BJT

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An American jetfighter has destroyed two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban forces in northern Afghanistan. Afghan officials say the explosion killed more than 70 people, including both insurgents and civilians.

Friday morning's airstrike came hours after Taliban militants seized the tankers near a German base. German officials say the militants were possibly planning for a suicide attack against the base with the tankers.

German commanders then ordered the airstrike after an unmanned surveillance aircraft determined no civilians were in the area.

Germany insisted at first that no civilians were killed.

But NATO later acknowledged that some civilians may have died.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO Secretary General, said, "Certainly a number of Taliban were killed. There is also the possibility of civilian casualties as well, but it is not yet clear."

A Taliban spokesman said villagers had swarmed the trucks to collect fuel. But it's unclear whether they were there when the bombing took place.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sharply criticized the US-led command for using excessive force in the war against the Taliban, alienating civilians.