Afghan family killed by Nato air strike
Eight innocent civilians dead in Paktia province, say officials, but coalition says troops came under fire from insurgents
A Nato air strike has killed eight members of one family at their home in a part of eastern Afghanistan that has seen heavy fighting this year, officials say.
President Hamid Karzai sent a team to look into the strike, which local officials said they had not been informed about.
"There was no co-ordination, [Nato] didn't seek the help of Afghan forces," said Rohullah Samoon, spokesman for the governor of Paktia province.
He added that he was sure that Mohammad Shafi, the head of the family, was not linked to the insurgency.
The Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said troops fighting in the area on Saturday had called for support from planes or helicopters, but only after the Taliban launched an assault on them.
Justin Brockhoff, a spokesman for Isaf, said on Sunday: "According to our initial operation reports, Afghan and Isaf troops were attacked by a large group of insurgents in southern Paktia. The troops responded to the attack by returning fire, and requested close air support."
Karzai has long criticised Nato for not doing enough to prevent the killings of innocent civilians, which have become a major irritant in relations with his foreign partners.
He warned earlier this month that the deaths could undermine a deal laying the framework for ties with the US after 2014, when most foreign combat forces will have left Afghanistan.
"If the lives of Afghan people are not safe, the signing of the strategic partnership has no meaning," the Associated Press quoted Karzai's office as saying.
Last year was the deadliest on record for Afghan civilians, according to UN statistics, with more than 3,000 killed in insurgency-linked violence.
The UN estimated the Taliban were responsible for over three-quarters of these deaths, but the insurgents are less often the target of Afghan public anger over civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, a British soldier was killed on Saturday by an explosion in the Nahr-e Saraj region of southern Helmand province, the Ministry of Defence said.
Three other foreign soldiers were killed by homemade bombs in other parts of southern Afghanistan on the same day, Nato said in a statement, but did not release their nationalities. There have been 166 foreign troop deaths in Afghanistan this year.