KABUL — At least three civilians were killed in a weekend NATO raid on insurgents in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday, as President Hamid Karzai condemned the operation "in the strongest possible terms".
NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it "may be responsible" for the deaths of the three civilians during a raid in Baraki Barak district of restive Logar province, close to Kabul, on Saturday.
ISAF commander General John Allen offered his condolences to the victims' families in a statement issued by the coalition and said officials would meet them personally to offer "condolence payments".
A statement from Karzai's office said the operation to detain two armed militants resulted in the killing of "four innocent children who were just grazing animals".
The Afghan president also accused the US-led NATO forces for failing to avoid civilian casualties during their operations against a stubborn Taliban-led insurgency.
"President Karzai condemns in the strongest possible terms the NATO military operation in Baraki Barak," the statement said.
"Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives including of children are still being lost in fighting a terrorism whose havens and sanctuaries remain safe outside Afghanistan's borders."
ISAF said the incident was under investigation.
Civilian casualties caused in NATO operations against insurgents are a sensitive issue in relations between the US-led force and Karzai's government.
Karzai often reacts angrily, arguing that such incidents turn people against his administration amid the decade-long Taliban insurgency aimed at bringing down his government.
Thousands of civilians are killed in the war each year, with the United Nations saying the vast majority of such deaths are caused by insurgents.
According to a UN statement, 1,145 civilians were killed in the war in the first six months of this year, with 80 percent of the deaths blamed on insurgents.
Last year as a whole, a record 3,021 civilians died in the war, the UN said.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »