US apologises over Afghan deaths
The US military has admitted that its troops killed five civilians in Afghanistan, including a child, not fighters as was earlier reported.
The US has also offered an apology for the deaths on Wednesday night and indicated that the family will receive support.
Brigadier-General Michael Ryan said in a statement late on Thursday: “We deeply regret the tragic loss of life in this precious family.”
A 13-year-old boy who survived the night-time raid on his home told Al Jazeera that his mother, brother, uncle and another female family member were killed.
A woman who was nine-months’ pregnant was wounded and lost her baby.
“Words alone cannot begin to express our regret and sympathy and we will ensure the surviving family members are properly cared for,” Ryan added.
Al Jazeera’s Todd Baer, reporting from Kabul, said that while the US operation was going on, the family thought that somebody had entered their home unlawfully to steal.
“They began shooting at soldiers. So the soldiers returned fire,” he said.
“There has been enormous pressure from citizens on the Afghan government to end these kinds of civilian casualties, end these kind of raids on houses.”
Fighting in Afghanistan has reached its highest level since the US-led invasion to overthrow the Taliban government in 2001 despite a growing number of foreign troops.
Barack Obama, the US president, wants to increase troop numbers further and is seeking the support of Nato countries, also stationed in Afghanistan, for a “surge” strategy similar to that operated in Iraq.
However, forces opposed to the US-backed Afghan government have been able to take the conflict from their strongholds in the south and east to the outskirts of the capital, Kabul.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed in operations by Afghan and foreign forces, an issue that has angered residents and increased pressure on Hamid Karzai, the country’s president.
The casualties have also been a major source of friction between the Afghan government and the West.