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NATO Apologizes For Deaths Of Afghan Civilians

Afghan authorities say 12 children died in the May 28 strike
NATO has apologized for the deaths of Afghan civilians in an air strike in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Major General John Toolan, the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in the southwestern region of Afghanistan, said NATO-led forces had targeted a compound in Helmand Province, believing militants were using it as a base.

The statement said the compound had civilians inside.

It said the air strike was launched after a U.S. Marine was killed and five insurgents took cover in a compound and continued fighting.

The statement said nine civilians had died in the air strike. It added that NATO will "make amends" with the families of the victims "in accordance with Afghan culture."

Authorities in Helmand Province said 14 civilians had died in the strike on May 28, 12 of them children.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denounced the strike as a "big mistake," and said he was giving his last warning to NATO-led forces to stop killing civilians.

The White House said the Obama administration shares Karzai's concerns over civilian casualties.

compiled from agency reports