Sunday, June 21, 2009

US accepts blame for deaths of 26 Afghan civilians

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States accidentally killed an estimated 26 Afghan civilians last month when a warplane did not strictly adhere to rules for bombing, the U.S. military concluded in a report that recommends even tighter controls to limit deaths that risk turning Afghans against the U.S war effort.

"The inability to discern the presence of civilians and assess the potential collateral damage of those strikes is inconsistent with the U.S. government's objective of providing security and safety for the Afghan people," the report prepared by U.S. Central Command said.

Three U.S. airstrikes conducted after dark near the close of the chaotic fight in the western Farah province probably accounted for the civilian deaths, according to the report released Friday. It contained only mild criticism of the B-1 bomber crew involved, however, and the nation's top military official has already said there is no reason to punish any U.S. personnel.

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