- Jason Ditz
The number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan continues to rise. In the second high profile incident this week alone, officials say that NATO killed at least eight Afghan civilians in an overnight air strike in the restive Helmand Province. At least three of them were children.
The attack came near the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah, when foreign forces called in an air strike after coming under ambush. It is unclear why the house was the target, as the fighters do not appear to have been near the house at the time of the bombing.
NATO has so far declined comment on the Helmand killings, and is still scrambling to explain away the even more high profile Kunar massacre on the other side of the country, in which forces, which NATO now claims were “non-military Americans” killed 10 Afghan civilians, eight of them children.
But virtually the entire British contribution to the war and an increasing number of US troops have been fighting in Helmand, where the Taliban’s power has grown so much that they are distributing travel permits to people coming in and out of Lashkar Gah. As NATO tries to convince the province’s residents accept them over the Taliban, the latest killings will likely do considerable harm to their PR campaign.