NATO Probes 'Disastrous' Air Strike; 90 Dead

Horrific injuries reported after fireball engulfs villagers
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2009 8:27 AM CDT
A German ISAF soldier talks on a field telephone after inspecting with his unit the site of an NATO airstrike outside Kunduz, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009.   (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
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(Newser) – NATO will conduct a "thorough investigation" into the air strike on two Taliban-hijacked fuel tankers in Afghanistan that killed 90 people today, many of them believed to be civilians, the alliance's secretary general said. An investigation team has already been sent to the area as reports trickle in of horrific injuries from a fireball that hit villagers who came to carry siphoned fuel to the Taliban-controlled village from one of the tanker, stuck in a river.

"It is recognised in NATO that air strikes such as this are losing the war," writes the Guardian's diplomatic editor, Julian Borger. "They usually kill the very people the foreign forces claim to be fighting for, and create far more Taliban recruits than the insurgents they kill." Borger notes that the investigation will focus on why commanders thought there were no civilians in the area. Most of the NATO forces in the region, he writes, are Germans, who rely more heavily on air strikes than some other units.