Afghan officials: 8 women killed in NATO airstrike

RAHIM FAIEZ
Associated Press
FILE - An armored vehicle patrols on the periphery of Camp Bastion in southern Afghanistan, in this Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007 file photo. The Taliban claimed responsibility on Saturday, Sept. 15 2012, for an attack against the sprawling British base in southern Afghanistan that killed two U.S. Marines and wounded several other troops, saying it was to avenge an anti-Islamic film which insulted the Prophet Muhammad and also because Britain's Prince Harry is serving there. Camp Bastion, which is the middle of the Afghanistan desert, locally called Dasht-e-Margo or "the Desert of Death" houses some 3,500 British servicemen and provides logistic supports to all the troops for their various operations in Southern Afghan. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan officials say a NATO airstrike killed eight women and girls who were out gathering firewood before dawn Sunday in a remote region on the east of the country. The coalition says it believes only insurgents were hit.

Villagers from Laghman province's Alingar district brought the bodies to the governor's office in the provincial capital, said Sarhadi Zewak, a spokesman for the provincial government.

"They were shouting 'Death to America!' They were condemning the attack," Zewak said.

Seven injured females were brought to area hospitals for treatment, some of them as young as 10 years old, said provincial health director Latif Qayumi.

NATO forces at first said that about 45 insurgents and no civilians were killed in the attack but spokesman Jamie Graybeal stressed later that they took the charge of civilian deaths seriously and were investigating the allegations. He said, however, that initial reports showed only insurgents were killed in the airstrike.

Airstrikes have been a particularly sensitive issue between the Afghan people — who say civilians often end up killed along with or instead of insurgents — and NATO forces who maintain that they are a key tactic for going after insurgent leaders.