KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (BNO NEWS) -- At least twenty civilians, including five children, were killed over the weekend when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) carried out two separate airstrikes in southern and northwestern Afghanistan, local officials said on Monday.
Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for Helmand governor Muhammad Gulab Mangal, said the first incident took place on late Friday evening when an ISAF helicopter targeted a militant hideout in the Sangin area of Helmand but missed and struck a home, killing a mother, her three daughters and two sons.
"At this point in the investigation, we are able to confirm the incident and will be formally apologizing in the next couple of days to the family," said ISAF spokesman Lt. Col. Stewart Upton. "We are deeply saddened by any civilian deaths, and particularly regret incidents where civilians are killed as a result of actions by ISAF."
Separately, at least fourteen civilians were believed to have been killed when ISAF carried out an airstrike in the Bala Murghab district of northwestern Badghis province on late Sunday evening. The office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai also claimed civilians were killed as a result of ISAF airstrikes in Logar and Kapisa provinces, but gave no other details.
"According to initial operational reporting, coalition aircraft conducted a targeted strike in Badghis province that resulted in three insurgents killed. We are aware of and are looking into the reports of civilian casualties," said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings, Jr., an ISAF spokesman, regarding Sunday night's incident.
Karzai strongly condemned the airstrikes and summoned ISAF Commander John R. Allen and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker to the presidential palace where he told them that coalition airstrikes in Afghan villages are 'unacceptable.' "President Karzai said if the lives of Afghans are not safe then strategic cooperation between the two countries will lose its meaning and concept," a spokesman for Karzai said in a statement.
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