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NATO airstrike kills child, 9 Taliban fighters

An Afghan doctor attends to a wounded man in the village of Spendi, Afghanistan, on Saturday, where civilians were wounded by a coalition air strike in response to an attack by Taliban militants.

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By Reuters
Saturday, March 30, 2013, 5:30 p.m.

GHAZNI, Afghanistan —A NATO helicopter killed at least one child and nine suspected Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's east on Saturday, officials and local residents said.

Last month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai forbade Afghan forces from calling for NATO air support and forbade international forces from using airstrikes “in Afghan homes or villages.”

NATO initially said that the strike was in support of Afghan troops, which would be in contravention of the president's orders, but later said new information showed the helicopter had struck the insurgents separately.

“This was an independently acquired and engaged target,” said ISAF spokesman Adam Wojack.

There were conflicting reports on the death toll from the airstrike. A Reuters reporter saw the bodies of two children. One was in a school uniform. Local elder Jan Mohammad and other residents said he was killed in the airstrike.

The reporter also saw the hand and foot of a toddler at the site of the airstrike, but the circumstances of the death were not immediately clear.

Senior police detective Mohammad Hussain said nine Taliban and one school-age child were killed in the airstrike. He also said a woman was killed and eight civilians were wounded in a firefight between Afghan security forces and insurgents.

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