Afghanistan’s president on Sunday rejected a U.S. apology for the mistaken killing of nine Afghan boys in a NATO air attack and said civilian casualties are no longer acceptable.
According to a statement from his office, President Hamid Karzai told U.S. ArmyGen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, that expressing regret was not sufficient in last week’s killing of the boys, ages 12 and under, by coalition helicopters.
NATO also has apologized for the mistaken killings. Civilian casualties from coalition operations are a major source of strain in the already difficult relationship between Mr. Karzai's government and the United States, and they generate widespread outrage among the population.
“President Karzai said that only regret is not sufficient and also mentioned that civilian casualties during military operations by coalition forces is the main reason for tension in relations between Afghanistan and United States,” the statement said. “It is not acceptable for the Afghan people anymore. Regrets and condemnations of the incident cannot heal the wounds of the people.”
The killing of the nine boys took place on March 1 in the Pech valley area of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan.