Karzai to limit NATO airstrikes

Feb. 16, 2013 at 6:41 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday he plans to prohibit Afghan ground forces from requesting NATO airstrikes "on Afghan homes or Afghan villages."

Karzai announced his intentions during a speech at a military academy in Kabul, four days after 10 civilians -- including five women and four children -- were killed in a NATO airstrike in a village in eastern Kunar province, The Washington Post reported.

The strike was one in a long-running string of such attacks called in by Afghan forces, the newspaper said.

"Our forces ask for air support from foreigners, and children get killed in an airstrike," Karzai said Saturday.

He said he would issue a formal order Sunday "stating that under no conditions can Afghan forces request foreign airstrikes on Afghan homes or Afghan villages during operations."

NATO is investigating the Tuesday strike -- which officials said also killed three militants, including one who was associated with al-Qaida.

The new commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, U.S. Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., has expressed condolences personally to Karzai, government and military officials said.

NATO declined to comment on Karzai's announcement Saturday, the Post said.

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