NATO officers visit wounded Afghans

2009-09-06 09:46 BJT

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US and German military officers have met with families and victims of a NATO air strike in northern Afghanistan.

The move is being seen as a bid to cool anger over an incident that risks further undermining NATO efforts to win hearts and minds in the country.

A delegation led by US Navy Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, head of public affairs for the 103 thousand US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, spoke with relatives and wounded civilians on Saturday.

The meeting was part of an investigation by NATO into the exact number of civilian casualties caused by the strike.

Afghan officials say scores of people were killed, many of them civilians, when a US F-15 fighter jet called in by German troops struck two fuel trucks early Friday.

NATO said its target in the raid were Taliban fighters who had hijacked the fuel trucks, but acknowledged that some of the victims were civilians.

Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, NATO Representative, said, "There were two bombs dropped in that area - the sense was that there were insurgents there. But we really need to discover what really happened, what people were there, what local villages might have been affected by this."

NATO commanders are hoping to avert a backlash over the incident, which comes two months after the new US and NATO commander ordered new procedures that require extra precautions to protect civilians before troops can fire.

Also on Saturday, a suicide bomber targeted a German convoy and wounded four German soldiers near Kunduz city.

Kunduz, a northern province that had been largely quiet since the Taliban was toppled in 2001, has recently seen a sudden surge in attacks, with fighters seizing control of remote areas.

Editor: Zhang Pengfei | Source: