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Kabul (AFP) Feb 14, 2013
Afghan president Hamid Karzai has summoned the new commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan over an air strike that allegedly killed ten civilians, according to a statement issued Thursday.
General Joseph Dunford, who took over from General John Allen on Sunday, was called in "for explanations" to the Afghan presidential palace following the air strike in the insurgency-plagued Kunar province a day earlier.
"Pointing to a commitment Gen. Allen had previously made not to conduct any air strike or bombing in residential areas, President Karzai reminded that such incidents must strictly be avoided in future and any recurrence is not acceptable," the statement said.
US forces in Afghanistan confirmed the meeting, re-iterating that the forces had launched an investigation over the circumstances surrounding the incident.
General Dunford, as the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), "expressed his personal condolences for any civilians who may have died or been injured as a result of the operation," their statement said.
Air strikes have long been a source of friction between NATO forces, led by the US army, and Kabul.
A report by a United Nations committee last Friday said that hundreds of Afghan children have been killed by US military forces during air strikes in Afghanistan over the past five years.
The report by the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said the deaths were "due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force," but gave no precise statistics.
USFOR-A dismissed the committee's concerns as "categorically unfounded," explaining that NATO forces had reduced civilian casualties by 49 percent in 2012 compared with 2011 and the number of children killed or wounded in air strikes had dropped by nearly 40 percent in the same period.
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