Afghans: NATO Strike Targeted Civilians
Villagers: 52 civilians killed in Helmand skirmish
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2010 8:12 AM CDT
A man next to a 13-year-old at a hospital in Kandahar, Afghanistan, July 24, 2010. The boy was one of 7 children brought to hospital after getting caught in crossfire Fri. between NATO and Taliban.   (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)
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(Newser) – Amidst the flood of leaked news of previously unreported civilian casualties in Afghanistan, angry Afghans say a NATO rocket attack on their Helmand province town on Friday deliberately targeted civilians, killing 52. "The foreign forces could see us," a villager who claims 17 members of his extended family were killed told the Guardian. NATO disputes the villagers' claims. "The team have not found any evidence to show that the civilians were killed," an investigator said.

The town where fighting occurred has a reputation as a safe haven in a volatile region, which could explain large numbers of civilians hiding out there. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and endorsed the claim that 52 people were killed. Similar incidents in the past have hugely damaged NATO's reputation in Afghanistan and caused tension with the Afghan government. The UN said it is "deeply concerned" about the incident and urged a thorough investigation.