US Operation Killed 65 Civilians: Afghan Officials
NATO, US officials cast doubt on claim
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 21, 2011 11:13 AM CST
Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

(Newser) – A US military operation in the desolate, mountainous lands of northeastern Afghanistan last week killed 65 civilians, among them 22 women and 30 children, Afghan officials tell the Washington Post. US officials have launched an emergency probe into the situation, seeking to minimize damage to American-Afghan relations—while some cast doubt on the allegations. “It's just the challenging situation that goes on with these type of incidents: an isolated area, a tough area, tough terrain,” said a US military official, who noted the dead were wearing civilian clothing. “But civilians involved in hostilities, I think that was the majority of them."

“It's up in the mountains and it's not around villages, so we don't think it's very likely” that the victims were civilians, he added. NATO officials, meanwhile, say that 36 armed insurgents were killed. Afghan president Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, cited 50 civilian deaths, and said he “will take any steps necessary to prevent and stop civilian casualties.” (Today the Post also reports on our $1 million drone strikes ... that aren't hitting high-level targets.)