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NATO Air Strike Kills Up to 90 in Afghanistan

By VOA News
04 September 2009

Afghan officials say a NATO air strike in the north blew up two fuel trucks Friday morning, causing a fiery explosion that killed up to 90 people, many of them civilians.

NATO officials say they ordered an air strike on two fuel trucks that had been hijacked by Taliban militants and taken to a village in Aliabad district in northern Kunduz province.

NATO authorities confirm scores of militants were killed and say they are investigating claims of civilian deaths. The alliance's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has promised a full investigation into the bombing.

The German military, which has troops under NATO in the region, said in a statement the pre-drawn air strike killed about 50 insurgents, but that it had no information about civilian deaths.

Local officials tell VOA that Taliban leaders were among those killed in the air strike.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement saying "targeting civilians is unacceptable" and announced that a panel will investigate the attack.

Afghan civilian deaths during foreign military operations have caused resentment among the public.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal ordered U.S. and NATO troops in July to limit the use of air strikes to try to reduce such casualties.

U.S. military commanders say protecting Afghan civilians and providing security is a focal point of the Obama administration's revamped strategy in Afghanistan.

Thursday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said President Barack Obama's new strategy is "only now beginning" and should be given more time to work.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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