US drone strike kills civilians in Afghanistan

Underscoring the continued threat to civilians in Afghanistan, a drone strike in an eastern province killed up to 16 people, Afghan officials said Sunday. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/world/asia/two-deadly-attacks-in-afghanistan.html?ref=world&_r=0
The drone strike occurred Saturday afternoon in the Watapur district of Kunar Province.
Afghan officials said the drone was targeting four insurgents who were picked up along the road by a truck with civilians in it, though reports differed on the number of passengers. Women and children were among the dead, officials said.

Coalition officials confirmed the strike, which they said had killed 10 insurgents.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the drone strike on Sunday, calling the attack on women and children against all international norms.

With the withdrawal of many of its troops from the area, the international coalition is now forced to rely on air power to combat the insurgency.

In Kunar, civilian casualties have been a sticking point for the coalition forces. In February, an airstrike in Kunar killed as many as 11 civilians, prompting Mr. Karzai to forbid Afghan forces from turning to NATO or American forces to conduct airstrikes. In April, another airstrike in Kunar was thought to have killed at least 10 children after a foiled attempt to capture a Taliban commander led to a sustained gun battle between special forces troops and insurgents.

civilians have borne the brunt of this war’s violence, and as coalition troops transition from combat roles, the trend appears to be worsening. The number of civilians killed or wounded in the first six months of 2013 rose by 23 percent compared with the same period a year before.

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