Cell phone pictures cited in Afghan probe

Sept. 8, 2008 at 1:01 PM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 8 (UPI) -- Cell phone pictures may have persuaded Gen. David McKiernan, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, to review a probe of civilian deaths, sources say.

Two unnamed NATO officials told CNN Monday McKiernan viewed cell phone photographs of the aftermath of an Aug. 22 U.S. airstrike in the Herat province in western Afghanista, which United Nations investigators say killed 90 civilians. U.S. military commanders have disputed that, claiming up to seven civilians were killed and 30 Taliban militants were slain in the strike.

The NATO officials told CNN the pictures revealed more bodies lying in the rubble that may not have been counted by U.S. forces.

"I feel it is prudent to request that U.S. Central Command send a general officer to review the U.S. investigation and its findings with respect to this new evidence," McKiernan was quoted as saying. "The people of Afghanistan have our commitment to get to the truth."

The Afghan government and a U.N. assistance agency said they believe 60 of the 90 civilians allegedly killed in the incident were children. A coalition statement said the airstrike was designed to stop a planned militant attack at a nearby coalition base.

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