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Page last updated at 22:05 GMT, Sunday, 13 September 2009 23:05 UK

Afghan raid 'killed 30 civilians'

Scene of the blast in Kunduz
The tankers were crossing a river when the air strike took place

Thirty civilians were killed during a Nato air strike on two hijacked fuel tankers in Afghanistan earlier this month, a government investigator says.

The tankers were seized by the Taliban in the restive northern province of Kunduz earlier this month.

The official said almost 100 people in total died in the strike, reportedly ordered by German commanders.

Nato has acknowledged that some civilians were killed but has yet to publish the results of its inquiry.

After the air strike, which took place on 4 September, President Hamid Karzai called the attack an "error of judgement" and sent his own commission to the area to investigate.

"Based on our interviews with local officials, villagers and the district governor, we have found that 119 people were killed and wounded," said investigator Mohammadullah Baktash.

He said 30 civilians had been killed and nine wounded. Sixty-nine Taliban were killed - 20 of whom were unarmed, he added.

RECENT MAJOR ATTACKS
2 Sep: Blast in Laghman province kills Afghan deputy chief of intelligence and 21 others
25 Aug: Car bomb in southern city of Kandahar kills at least 40
18 Aug: Nine Afghans and a Nato soldier die and more than 50 are injured in Kabul
15 Aug: Bomb outside Nato HQ in Kabul kills seven and injures 90
13 Aug: Twin blasts in Helmand and Kandahar kill 14, including several children
6 Aug: Five American and three UK soldiers, five civilians and five policemen killed by roadside bombs mainly in Helmand
3 Aug: Bomb in Herat city kills 12

Mr Baktash said the full report would be released over the coming days.

"We cannot say whether the air strike was necessary or not. We will present our report to Karzai and it will be up to him to investigate with the Germans," he said.

Last week, a prominent Afghan human rights group, Afghan Rights Monitor, said that according to its own investigation between 60 and 70 civilians had died in the air strike.

The strike, called by German commanders who feared the loaded tankers could be used as mobile bombs, hit as villagers gathered with containers, planning to collect fuel.

Civilian casualties caused by international troops in the country are a major source of friction with the government and the people of Afghanistan.



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