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Afghanistan: Nato Air Strike 'Kills Eight' In Paktia Province, Report Local Officials

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Nato forces in Afghanistan (file)
Nato forces in Afghanistan (file)

Eight civilians, including a woman and six children, have been killed by an Nato airstrike in the Paktia province of Afghanistan, local officials have reported.

The family of eight were killed on Saturday night when a bomb hit their home in the village of Suri Khail, from the eastern Gerda Serai district, reports Reuters.

Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) have said they are investigating the claims.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings confirmed that Isaf forces were in Paktia province on Saturday night, "conducting an operation against large number of insurgents" reports Sky News.

A local government spokesman Rohullah Samon told AFP:

"It was an air strike conducted by NATO. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group."

The father of the six children has been named locally as Mohammed Shafi.

"Shafi was not a Taliban" Samon told Al Jazeera.

"He was not in any opposition group against the government. He was a villager. Right now, we are working on this case to find out the ages of their children and how many of them are boys and girls."

The civilian deaths are likely to damage already fragile relations between coalition forces and President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai signed a security pact earlier this month with US President Barack Obama outlining plans for continued engagement with Nato after troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2014.

However the Afghan president has previously warned that civilian deaths undermine his efforts to build a government that has a strong relationship with the west.

“If the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the signing of the strategic partnership has no meaning” Karzai's office said last month, reported the Associated Press.

Roadside bombs planted by the Taliban are also responsible for a number of civilian deaths. Four international troops were killed by an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) in southern Afghanistan in an unrelated incident on Saturday. One is reported to have been a British soldier who was killed whilst travelling in the southern Helmand province.

However as civilian casualties in Afghanistan continue to rise, there is increasing anger directed towards international forces.

Most recently eight children were killed in a Nato airstrike in the north east of Kabul in February, causing Karzai to order an inquiry.

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