NATO's International Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has admitted responsibility and apologized for the accidental killing of nine children in an air strike in the Darah-Ye Pech district of Kunar Province.
In a statement, the commander of the force, General David Petraeus, said, "We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologize to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan, and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions." He said, "These deaths should have never happened."
Hundreds of Afghan villagers protested the killing of the children. Residents said the demonstrators chanted slogans against the United States and the Afghan government as they marched to the site of the March 1 bombing.
Local officials said the children were collecting firewood on a mountain when they were killed in the air strike after forces mistook them for insurgents.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that the erroneous killing of civilians must stop.
The incident came less than two weeks after more than 60 civilians were reported killed in NATO air and ground strikes in Kunar.
compiled from agency reports