Karzai Condemns U.S. Airstrike Killing Eight Civilians

Seven Afghan children and a woman were killed as American forces conducted an airstrike in central Afghanistan, according to President Hamid Karzai.

Condemning the strike in the “strongest terms,” Karzai said today in an e-mailed statement from his office that it violated assurances given by President Barack Obama to stop nighttime raids in rural areas of the war-torn country.

The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force expressed regret in a statement for what it described as the deaths of “two civilians inside a building from which insurgents were firing” on commandos in an “Afghan-led clearing operation to disrupt insurgent activity.”

The airstrike adds to tensions between Afghanistan and the U.S. over Karzai’s refusal to sign a security agreement he reached with the Obama administration that would permit a continued U.S. presence after combat forces depart by the end of this year.

The attack took place in Parwan province, north of Kabul, the capital. The international force said in an e-mailed statement that local officials were informed of the operation “in a high-threat area with Taliban activity, some linked to the Haqqani network.”

While the Obama administration had said the Afghan president’s signature was needed by the end of last month, Karzai continues to press for additional U.S. assurances and has said he may not be ready to sign until after the election in April to choose his successor.

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