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Afghans Say Foreign Strike Kills Four From One Family

Men transport the bodies of four civilians killed in the U.S. air strike
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) -- An air strike by foreign troops killed four members of a family in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar Province, villagers said on August 5 after bringing the bodies to the provincial capital to show officials.

Civilian deaths caused by foreign troops while hunting the resurgent Taliban have eroded support for the presence of the troops and have also become a major source of friction between Kabul and the West.

In Kabul, a spokesman for the NATO-led force which commands most of the foreign troops in Kandahar said he would check the report.

The strike happened late on August 4, killing three boys and a man, all members of one family, in Arghandab, a lush valley to the western outskirts of Kandahar city, residents said.

"They were civilians killed by the air strike while fast asleep," Jan Mohammad, a village elder, said.

Mohammad was among scores of residents from Arghandab who brought the bodies to show provincial authorities in the city.

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, issued orders last month placing greater limits on the use of air strikes in order to reduce civilian casualties.

The deaths come amid mounting violence in Afghanistan and as U.S. and NATO forces press on with major operations aimed at securing Taliban-held areas in neighboring Helmand Province.

The operations, the largest since the Taliban's ouster by foreign forces in 2001, are meant to secure an August 20 presidential poll and are part of the new U.S. administration's effort to defeat militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan.