Petraeus Apologizes for Deaths of Afghan Boys
Nine were killed by NATO helicopter while gathering firewood
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 2, 2011 7:07 PM CST
General David Petraeus in a file photo.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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(Newser) – Gen. Petraeus has quickly apologized for one of the worst cases of a mistaken NATO strike: A coalition helicopter fired on a group of boys collecting firewood, killing nine. "We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologize to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and, most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions," said Petraeus in a statement. "These deaths should have never happened."

While his predecessor, Stanley McChrystal, issued numerous such apologies for errant attacks, this is the first from Petraeus, reports the Wall Street Journal. It came hours after Hamid Karzai condemned the "ruthless attack." One NATO official said the helicopter apparently got bad information from ground troops following a Taliban attack. Said the brother of two of the victims: "I don't care about the apology. The only option I have is to pick up a Kalashnikov, RPG (rocket-propelled grenade), or a suicide vest to fight."
 

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