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Pentagon disputes reports of 90 Afghan civilians killed in US airstrike

Officials say only five civilians died in last week's attack, but UN, Afghanistan say 60 children died in the strike.

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A Pentagon inquiry has found that a controversial US airstrike in Afghanistan resulted in only five civilians deaths, not the 90 deaths reported by Afghan and UN officials. The disputed death toll has raised tensions between the US and Afghanistan, and has spurred Afghanistan to call for a status-of-forces agreement between the two countries. According to The Washington Post, the Pentagon's investigation concluded that last Thursday's airstrike on an Afghan village killed five civilians and 25 Taliban militants, including a commander.

"We did not kill up to 90 civilians as has been alleged," one U.S. military official said. The review "comports with our operational understanding" of the events, said the official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan were expected to present their findings to Afghan government officials – possibly including President Hamid Karzai – at a meeting Thursday, the officials said. The U.S. military planned to propose that the two sides conduct a joint investigation of the incident, they said. ...
The airstrike, which the U.S. military said took place after insurgents ambushed Afghan army commandos and coalition troops during a raid, came as U.S. and NATO forces escalated their reliance upon air power to combat an intensifying Taliban insurgency, in part because of a shortage of ground forces in Afghanistan.
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