US bombing kills 9 Afghan children by mistake


US-led forces in Afghanistan have mistakenly killed nine children during an air strike on a leader of the banned Taliban regime, the US military says.

Hours after the strike, suspected Taliban guerrillas kidnapped two Indians working on the same road.

A statement from spokesman Colonel Bryan Hilferty at the US headquarters in Afghanistan said today the children's bodies had been found by ground troops of the US-led force near the body of the intended target.

It said it regretted the loss of innocent life and the "tragic incident" was being investigated. It said the US-led force had acted "after developing extensive intelligence over an extended period of time".

The statement did not identify the target, but Ghazni's deputy governor, Mr Kheyal Mohammad Hussaini, said he was Mullah Wazir, a local Taliban leader. He said US planes had conducted the attack and local authorities had not been informed beforehand.

The United Nations said it was "profoundly distressed" by deaths of the children and called for a swift investigation.

The children were just the latest civilians killed by US-led forces pursuing remnants of the Taliban regime, which was overthrown in late 2001, and allied Islamic militants.

In November six civilians were killed in an air strike in the southern province of Paktika, and nearly three weeks before that eight members of the same family, including children, died in a similar attack in the province of Nuristan.

In a notorious incident in July last year the Afghan government said 48 people had been killed and 117 wounded in Uruzgan province when a US AC-130 gunship aircraft attacked a wedding party. The US military said 34 had died and 50 had been wounded -- mostly women and children - but said the aircraft had come under ground fire.