Kabul, 4 Zul-qaadah 1434/8 September 2013 (MINA) – Afghan officials accused NATO of killing 15 people, nine of them civilians, including women and children, in an airstrike in an eastern province where the Taliban are strong.

     NATO said on Sunday that 10 fighters died in Saturday’s strike, and that it had no reports of any civilian deaths, Aljazeera quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

     The latest disputed airstrike occurred in the Watapur district of Kunar province, which lies near the border with Pakistan.

     It is a fighter stronghold, and many Arab and other foreign fighters are believed to operate there alongside the Afghan Taliban.

    Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the airstrike hit a pick-up truck carrying the women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan fighters boarded it Saturday evening.

     He said some reports called it a drone strike, but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that.

     Of the 15 dead, four were women, four were children and one was the driver, the police official said.

     NATO spokeswoman 1st Lt. AnnMarie Annicelli confirmed that the military alliance carried out a “precision strike” that killed 10 “enemy forces,” but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying in the airstrike.

     Civilian deaths in NATO operations have long been a sore point between the Afghan government and the US-led troops in the country, and they have been a major factor in the animosity many Afghans feel towards foreign forces.

     President Hamid Karzai has spoken out forcefully against them and banned Afghan troops from requesting NATO airstrikes during operations in residential areas.

     Meanwhile, A powerful explosion has gone off near an Afghan intelligence office in the country’s east, killing at least six people.

     The officials said the people were in a minivan driving past the site when the bomb exploded on Sunday afternoon.

     Hazrat Janan, who is a member of the council that governs Wardak province, says the blast shattered windows of buildings in a wide stretch of Maidanshar city.

     He says that gunshots were heard in the area immediately after the Sunday blast. (T/P09/E1).

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).

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