NATO says attacks in the area were ordered, but does not confirm deaths
New York Times, Chron.com, July 7, 2007
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN — Amid a continuing flurry of reports about civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the leader of a tribal council in Farah province on Saturday said 108 noncombatants were killed Friday in a NATO airstrike.
The report was denied by a NATO spokesman and could not immediately be confirmed from other sources.
"NATO soldiers, along with the Afghan National Army and people from the national police, came to Shewan Village and told us they needed to search three or four houses," the tribal chief, Hajji Khudai Rahm, said in a telephone interview.
"As we talked, a firefight began and 20 houses were destroyed when the planes dropped bombs. We counted 108 bodies, including women and children. Fourteen local policemen were among the dead. Right now, things are calm, but people are digging through the rubble to find more bodies."
Also, Reuters reported that residents and officials in Kunar province said 36 civilians had been killed in recent airstrikes, 11 of them Thursday during a bombardment, and 25 more Friday as they attended a funeral for the deceased.
Hajji Shalizai Didar, the governor of Kunar, said Saturday via telephone that he had heard the reports about the deaths, in Watapoor District, but had been unable to confirm them because the fighting continued.
Maj. John Thomas, a spokesman for NATO, said that the alliance had ordered airstrikes in both Farah and Kunar during the times in question. "We're aware of the reports of civilian casualties but none of it tracks with the information we have, which is pretty extensive," he said. "In both cases, we had good reconnaissance before and after."