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NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan Kills Civilians

By VOA News
01 October 2009

NATO forces in western Afghanistan are meeting with village elders after receiving reports that an airstrike killed at least nine civilians, including women and children.

Local residents said the attack also left several Taliban militants dead.

NATO said one of its aircraft dropped a single precision-guided bomb overnight in Helmand province's Nad Ali district after an extensive battle with insurgents.

Officials from the international military force are in the area to determine the extent of the casualties. ISAF spokesman, Colonel Wayne Shanks, extended "heartfelt condolences" to relatives of the civilian victims.

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, recently issued new guidelines that limit airstrikes to prevent civilian casualties.

McChrystal said in London Thursday the situation in Afghanistan is worsening and foreign forces have limited time to reverse the momentum.

The general spoke following the Obama administration's top-level meeting aimed at forming a new strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan and eliminating al-Qaida.

The president met with senior military leaders, Cabinet officials and other advisers in the White House Wednesday. General McChrystal participated by video link. The White House did not release details about the talks.

Members of the administration are reported to be divided over whether to scale back involvement or add thousands of additional troops as part of a request made by General McChrystal.

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

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