RM Issue #031212
US bombing kills Afghan children, US forces have admitted
The US sent in an A-10 'Warthog' after receiving intelligence
mistakenly killing nine children when they bombed a target in southern Afghanistan.
US military spokesman Major Christopher West said they had acted on information that a suspected terrorist was at a house near the city of Ghazni.
Ground forces later found the body of the intended target along with those of the children nearby, he said.
Major West said the US military regretted the loss of innocent life and would seek to find the cause of death.
The Coalition Forces regret the loss of any innocent life
Major Christopher West, US military
He said the suspect was thought to be behind the murders of two foreign contractors working on a ring road.
Acting on "extensive intelligence", he said, an A10 "Warthog" - a heavily armoured plane - was called in and opened fire on the isolated rural site at about 1030 local time (0600 GMT) on Saturday.
The US military followed "stringent rules of engagement" to avoid such incidents, Major West added.
A commission had been formed to investigate the scene of the incident, he said.
Series of bombings
Afghan government sources said they believed the incident was a mistake.
But the BBC's Lyse Doucet said the attack on what seems to have been innocent Afghans is certain to anger the local population.
Saturday's bombing is the latest in a series of attacks by US-led forces which have resulted in the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians since the start of the campaign against the Taleban and al-Qaeda in October 2001.
Afghan officials said in September eight nomads were among 10 people killed when US forces bombed targets in a massive offensive against suspected militants.
The US military is investigating that attack after initially denying any civilians were killed.
In July last year, American forces killed at least 48 civilians when a stray bomb hit a civilian area in the southern province of Uruzgan.
Twenty-five of the dead were from a single family attending a wedding.
Although in many areas Afghans welcome the presence of American troops and other foreigners, there is hostility in some southern and eastern parts, our correspondent says.
With thousands of US troops still pursuing remaining al-Qaeda and Taleban elements, there is sometimes resentment at what is perceived as American heavy-handedness.
Ghazni was also the scene three weeks ago of the murder of a UN worker who was shot dead in broad daylight in the market.
Bystanders attacked the assailants and there was widespread condemnation of the incident, responsibility for which was later claimed by the Taleban